Cherry Blossoms in Shukugawara; Hanami & Business as Usual

Yes there’s radioactive iodine traces in the water supplied by the Ikuta Water Plant 3 Kilometers from our house. This is especially true after it rains. (My wife orders water on line & the prices of close to $4 for a 2L bottle are killing me. I’m ready to take my chances with the tap water.) Scheduled “Brownouts” are a concern but have been limited around our place compared to areas such as Fujisawa where electrical shut downs are scheduled for twice a day when summer heat and humidity reach air conditioning necessary levels. Subway and Elevated Trains run with inner lights switched off, hand driers in rest rooms are disconnected and the Giant TV Screen at the famous Shibuya Crossing remains dark. With this said, you might be surprised that the mood in Tokyo is somewhat peaceful and people are approaching life and business in the usual fashion.

Spring arrived and was celebrated traditionally with “Hanami” (flower viewing) Parties under the Cherry Blossoms. The area known as Shukugawara is a Cherry Blossom Party Destination. The trees lining the Nikaryo-yosui stream walkway that feeds the larger Tamagawa River bloom and for two weeks the river walk is truly spectacular. You’ll witness groups of friends gathering in front of the Nambu Lines’ Shukugawara Square preparing to walk to a prime Hanami Location. Once a vacant patch of grass is located, the group spread ground sheets and break out picnics. Every available millimeter is taken up by enthusiastic people eager to celebrate spring and enjoy the camaraderie of friends and colleagues.

Hanami usually involves early Spring weather far too cold for my liking. This year’s bloom came later than usual and afternoon temperatures allowed People to enjoy Hanami in short sleeve shirts. For the thousands spending the day in intimate groups or with large parties organized by companies and clubs it was another Celebration of Spring. Like any other year we move from Winter to Spring and life goes on. My family’s walk by the trees on Sunday, April 10th was inspiring. Safe water and electricity were once a given in Kawasaki and that has changed, but the Cherry Blossoms are forever reliable.

The Governor of Tokyo, Mr. Shintaro Ishihara was just re-elected for a 4th Term. He’s published stern direction for people of Japan to practice “Jishiku” (self restraint) in honor of the people suffering in the North. Mr. Ishihara also claimed that the March 11th (Japan’s 311) Earthquake was divine punishment for “Japanese Egotism and Populism”. “No pachinko, no vending machines and restrain from the drinking and revelry associated with Hanami.” I’ve observed the Japanese People throughout the crisis acting in the classy manner that’s brought world wide respect for the Japanese Society. Some might consider Mr. Ishihara’s “edicts” a road to “Ishuku” (retreat/atrophy) in a time when the Japanese Economy most needs stimulation. My family will keep the lights down low Mr. Ishihara, but please, please, don’t resent our Hanami. It only comes once a year.

Kyodo News 'Traces of radioatice iodine found in tap water in Tokyo'


Financial Times 'Post-disaster thriftiness is a receipe for recession'



Wally and Jane Yonamine Pearl Shop

About 25 years ago I met Mr. Wally Yonamine while working out at the Clark Hatch Fitness Center located at the Azabu Towers. We rode stationary bikes and exchanged casual conversation about our mutual love for sports and various business projects. We elected to continue the dialog at the American Club next door over lunch. His story was fascinating and his delivery modest. He talked of playing football and baseball in Hawaii where he developed athletic talent worthy of a contract with the San Francisco 49ers. He remembered being emotionally crushed by the summer ankle injury that ended his second professional football season & career (as the first Asian in the NFL.)

I remember Mr. Yonamine describing how that one door’s closing opened exciting chances in baseball eventually leading to a job in the Professional Central League in Japan. He talked of the challenges and rewards that came with his decision to be the first American to play in the Japanese Professional League. He was the “Jackie Robinson” of Japanese Baseball and became part of Sport’s History along with team mates Sadahara Oh and Shigeo Nagashima. His career as a Yomiuri Giant & Chunichi Dragon, 1957 League MVP, and Manager of the Chunichi Giants is well documented in a Biography written by Robert K Fitts. (http://wallyyonamine.com/).

Mr. Yonamine passed away on February 28th in his native Hawaii and Obituaries Celebrated his Life around the Globe. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/sports/baseball/05yonamine.html)

It was my pleasure and good fortune to have met him. He was special and his legend will live on not only thru statistics, the players he coached and fans he inspired but by the business built by his wife Jane that bears his name. The Wally Yonamine Pearl Shop is located near the famous Roppongi Crossing on the 5th Floor of the Arts Shop Building. It remains a place to purchase top quality jewelry from knowledgeable and friendly staff at competitive prices. Over the years, photographs, letters, autographs and sports memorabilia have been collected from patrons and neatly displayed at the Wally Yonamine Store. The result is a historical tribute to the last 50 Years of Japanese / Western Cultural Exchange.

Since the store opened in 1964, thousands of customers including a Parade of Celebrities inclusive of Royalty (King & Queen of Sweden), Hollywood Legends (Liz Taylor), Recording Artists (Don Henley of the Eagles), Business Moguls (Irv Robbins of Baskin-Robbins), Models (Brook Shields), Political Figures (Ronald Reagan) and Sports Super Stars (Kristy Yamaguchi) visited Roppongi to find the Yonamine Pearl Shop. My wife and I enjoyed reviewing the Photo Gallery and the thorough and interesting Pearl presentation by Expert Keiko Umehara. We were extremely gratified to receive the same courteous and professional service as any of the famous figures gracing the walls. We would recommend the Wally Yonamine Pearl Shop to anyone wanting to witness a glimpse of history, learn about Pearls and possibly leave with a precious memento of Japan.

Wally Yonamine Pearl Shop http://www.janespearl.com/about.html