Monday, March 29, 2010

Taiyo Park Visit 太陽公園訪れ

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Taiyo Park in Himeji city located about 90 minutes away from Osaka to the west. The park has a little bit of something for everyone with areas to experience blowing glass, glass sandblasting, aroma, spray painting art, and wood carving.

In cooperation with the German Consulate, the main attraction at Taiyo Park, Castle Hakucho, was constructed and completed in April of 2009. With seven floors and a height of 88 meters (290 feet), the castle is home to numerous works of art from artists around the world.

After touring the castle, I headed over to the stone area to see what it had to offer. With miniature replicas of the pyramids, Sphinx, Great Wall of China, and Tiananmen Square, etc., one is able to see many famous stone sculptures and landmarks all in one convenient place. Located less than 30 minutes by car from Himeji Castle, I recommend making a day trip and visiting Taiyo Park nestled in the northern hills of Himeji for an experience that you will not forget. In closing, make sure the weather is nice as most of the attractions are outdoors.




Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Warring States Period Novelty Store       戦国時代グッズ専門店

Yesterday on my way returning from business in Tokyo, I stopped by Kyoto to meet with the mastermind of the Sengoku Dama brand, Tomohiro Suzuki, at his Kyoto Store located in close proximity to Nijo Castle. After having started the business in 2005, the Sengoku Dama brand, which features many items with references to the Sengoku "Warring States" period, has become a hit not only among Japanese but non-Japanese as well that has seen Suzuki-san tie-up with the likes of JR and NTT DoCoMo's i-mode to promote his brand.

With his headquarters based in the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture, Suzuki-san has two novelty stores to date with one in the heart of Kyoto City and the other in Daikanyama, which is a famous location in Tokyo. In my discussion with Suzuki-san, I learned that he is eyeing an overseas location like the U.S. for expanding his business in a year or two. With the vision clearly defined for the Sengoku Dama brand, I am confident that there are opportunities for us to work together in the not so distant future.



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kyoto Machiya Townhouse 京都町家

On March 14, I had the pleasure to spend a night living in the lap of luxury in a fully restored Iori "machiya" townhouse along the famous Kamo River in Kyoto. Iori, which was born in 2004 and co-founded by fellow American and acclaimed author Alex Kerr, currently is operating ten restored townhouses in central Kyoto. For those of you wanting to experience the true essence of traditional Kyoto living with the modern amenities of today, I highly recommend spending a night or two at an Iori managed machiya. In addition, private traditional Japanese arts courses such as archery, Zen meditation, and calligraphy are available for machiya guests to enhance one's stay while in Kyoto.

314日、有名な鴨川沿いにある完全に復元された町家庵(Ioriで豪華に夜を過ごすという幸運に恵まれました。庵2004年に施設としてととのえられ、アメリカ人で、著名な作家であるAlex Kerrによって共同設立されたもので、現在、Alex Kerr氏は京都の町中に10軒の町家を経営しています。皆さんのなかで、現今のモダンな空間でステイしながら伝統的な京都の真髄を経験したい方がいらっしゃれば、が管理する町家で一泊ないし二泊されることを強くお勧め致します。さらには、町家ゲストのために、アーチェリーや、座禅、書道など個人的に楽しむ日本の伝統芸術コースが京都でのステイの幅を広げるべく、用意されています。

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kansai Young Executive Board (KYEB) Networking Party

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Kansai Young Executive Board (KYEB) Networking Party hosted by a business associate of mine, Tomohiro Yamashita, who is the president of the architecture and design renovation firm es. Conveniently located within walking distance from my residence, the KYEB party was held at Yamashita-san's own es building, which is a landmark in the area beautifully positioned along the Dotombori riverside. In total, more than 40 people were in attendance, most of them entrepreneurs, to expand their network among an assortment of food and drinks prepared by the staff of Yamashita-san's restaurant LOVE&CAFE. Having wined and dined at LOVE&CAFE previously, which happens to be located on the 3rd floor of the es building, I cannot say enough good things about not only the food but the ambience as well.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Osaka Mayor's Foreign Business Networking Club (FBNC)

As written above in the picture, I attended the latest installment of the Osaka Mayor's Foreign Business Networking Club (FBNC) on February 4 at the Mayor's Mansion. The participants broke out into two groups to discuss at length the issues facing the city of Osaka in making it attractive to foreigners and foreign businesses. After the conclusion of the "break-out" sessions, all participants gathered in the same room with Mayor Hiramatsu to hear each group's summary and receive feedback directly from the mayor. Having the international community's voice heard is definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully more fruitful meetings will be planned and actions taken as a result.

上記の写真にございますように、私は24日に市長公館で行なわれたOsaka Mayor's Foreign Business Networking Club (FBNC)の最新回の会合に出席して参りました。参加者は2つのグループに分かれて、大阪市が外国人並びに外国企業にとって魅力的な市にしようとするにあたって直面している問題について、時間をかけて討議しました。「同時進行」セッションの閉会後、全参加者が平松市長と同室に集合し、各グループの概略を拝聴し、市長からその概略について直接フィードバックを受けました。国際コミュニティーの意見に耳を傾けることは、必ずや正しい方向への手段となります。さらなる実り多き会議が計画され、結果としてそれが実行されることを期待します。