Terrie's Take 934 -- Ashinaga: Orphans Have a Benefactor on Their Side, e-biz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Mar 5 14:39:40 JST 2018

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term 
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

General Edition Sunday, Mar 04, 2018, Issue No. 934

- What's New -- Ashinaga: Orphans Have a Benefactor on Their Side
- News -- Free for all on Olympics advertising?
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback - The Over-touristing of Kyoto
- Travel Picks -- Pop-up restaurants along Kibune river in Kyoto, Aso 
fire festival in Kyushu
- News Credits

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Ashinaga: Orphans Have a Benefactor on Their Side

One of the great things about being a foreign entrepreneur in Japan is 
the many unexpected opportunities that come your way. Mostly those 
opportunities are business related, and after the initial excitement has 
worn off, they are all about process and delivering promises. But every 
now and again, something different comes along, and in February I was 
asked to hold a company startup seminar for the Ashinaga organization.

For those who have lived in Japan for a while, you'll probably know 
Ashinaga by its English nickname, Daddy Long Legs, the organization that 
helps kids without parents get counseling, friends, and financial 
support. The organization is most visible by its semi-annual fundraising 
drives, where young volunteers stand out in front of train stations 
soliciting donations. As an aside, although street-side donations 
solicitation is now a common sight, when Ashinaga first got started back 
in the 1960's it was a novel way to receive funds that would otherwise 
normally have come through government handouts (and subject to political 
interference), so they were the first NGO to raise funds on the street 
anonymously. Even today, and per their website, Ashinaga says it does 
not take government funds.

Ashinaga first got started in Japan when its founder, Yoshiomi Tamai, 
lost his mother in a traffic accident in 1963. As he tried to cope with 
his loss, he found that there were very few support services in Japan 
for orphaned kids and became a high-profile critic of government 
policies,  eventually setting up in 1967 the Association for Traffic 
Accident Orphans. The organization has since grown from these humble 
beginnings to one that today annually helps thousands of orphaned kids 
in Japan and hundreds overseas. Services offered include emotional 
support, financial support, education, summer camps, personal training 
on how to transition to the adult world, and leadership opportunities 
through volunteering.

--------- From Veggie Burgers to Carrot Cake --------------

Our commitment at Alishan Organics is to give our customers the best of 
western organic foods, but prepared with a Japanese twist. That's why 
our menus cover such a broad range of styles and tastes. If you're just 
getting to know us, why not visit our cafe by the river in Saitama? That 
way you can try out a variety of dishes and decide for yourself. Choose 
from an Amy's organic pizza straight from the oven, a mouthwatering 
veggie burger packed with seasonal greens and reds, or if you're feeling 
chilly, a filling vegetable curry with rice. And although we're healthy 
minded, we don't skimp on desserts. Favorites include Jack's scrumptious 
carrot cake, vegan brownies (of course with vegan icecream), and baked 
banana cheese cake.

Our Cafe: http://bit.ly/2m0r8z7
Our new online store: http://bit.ly/2v8gRpi

[...Article continues]

Ashinaga's definition of its audience (starting with orphans) is kids 
who have lost one parent or both, and kids who are economically deprived 
because the family breadwinner is unable to work due to disability. In 
Japan, things are tough for orphans and kids of one-parent families. 
Some 53% of them are unable to get higher education because of financial 
difficulties, and about 25% of students work part-time to help support 
their families. I've mentioned before in Terrie's Takes about the 3.5m 
kids in mostly single-parent families living below the poverty line, 
with a family of mom and 1 or 2 kids struggling to get by on less than 
JPY2.2m a year. The Guardian has a good story from last year on the 
state of child poverty in Japan.

http://bit.ly/2FcOuut [Guardian story]

But this particular day, I wasn't addressing Japanese kids. Rather, back 
in 2014 Ashinaga started a new program called the Ashinaga African 
Initiative (AAI), which supports orphans from sub-Saharan Africa. So my 
group was 29 young people aged between 20 and 30 from sub-Saharan 
Africa. They were a gathering of the first to fourth waves of students 
who have come to Japan to study at universities around the country, 
generally in English, and completely at the expense of the Ashinaga 
organization. The first wave will graduate this year, marking a 
milestone for the organization.

As I quickly found out, Ashinaga sets a high bar for the selection of 
scholarship recipients, and only the best and brightest make it. This is 
tough on the bulk of applicants back home but is a reality if you want 
to change the world through seeding it with dedicated minds and hearts. 
Further, not all these scholarships are just for Africa, and globally 
the growth has been impressive. In 2014 there were 10 students from 10 
countries, and in 2017 there were 105 students from 38 countries.

As another aside, according to a 2001 UNICEF report, the sub-Saharan 
region of Africa has the highest number of orphaned kids in the world, 
with about 10% of the entire child population having lost one or both 
parents. The common causes are HIV, other fatal illnesses, and violent 
crime. Only 6% of sub-Saharan Africa's kids go to college, compared to 
62% in Japan, and of course those losing a parent are simply struggling 
to survive, so the number going to college is a MUCH smaller percentage 

The AAI program has a simple aim, which although right now is admittedly 
a drop in the ocean, over time it may make a huge difference. The 
program seeks to develop future leaders, so ethics and the ethos of 
helping others is well inculcated. Indeed, one of the requirements of 
participating in the 4-year college degrees being offered in Japan is 
that the group needs to return home to help their own countries to 
improve socially and economically. This is no empty concept - I asked 
the group who wanted to go back to Africa after experiencing life and 
study in Japan. I expected around half to indicate that they wanted to 
stay on in Japan, but in fact everyone raised their hands.

The thinking behind giving students entrepreneurship classes is a simple 
one. Orphans typically don't have the support networks that their fellow 
citizens do, and if they are not taught how to help themselves then 
going to university may prove a wasted four years. The content of my  
presentation and of other presentations that they are receiving, 
revolves significantly around the ability to create good ideas, learn 
how capital is raised and ideas leveraged, and how to hire and motivate 
people. I found the team to be highly engaged and asked great questions 
about setting up their own businesses. Some have already asked me to 
mentor them.

When you look at the growth and sophistication of Ashinaga, you have to 
wonder how much it costs to run the organization and where the money 
comes from. Although I asked a number of people in my network who might 
know otherwise, it seems that the organization is kosher and is funded 
by the success of its Daddy Long Legs fundraisers, coupled with 
increasing amounts of direct donations. In some ways, brand wise, 
Ashinaga is now as famous and respected as the Red Cross in Japan, and 
is certainly just as well trusted when people think of orphans.

Probably one reason for this success has been the ability of the 
leadership to coopt a large base of publicly visible supporters. For 
example, in addition to the Board and a group of Advisors, they have 
formed an International Advisory Council of prominent people. Members of 
the Council include some of the leading academic, business, and 
celebrity figures in Africa, as well as such leaders such as Masayoshi 
Son of Softbank and Jean-Christophe Rufin of France, the founder of 
Médecins Sans Frontières. There are of course assorted figures who have 
previously held posts in Japanese government organizations, but 
surprisingly, there seems to be little influence from sitting 
politicians. [Ed: Although I'm sure readers will tell me if this is not 
the case...!]

...The information janitors/


----- Snowshoeing in Minakami, Gunma, 11th March 2018 -----

www.JapanTravel.com is organizing a small-group day trip to Gunma 
prefecture, where you will traverse the snowy, mountainous region of 
Minakami via snowshoes! Be led by a certified English-speaking mountain 
guide who will assist you in navigating the terrain. After that, move on 
to the beautiful Takaragawa Onsen for a soak in the hot springs beside 
the river, before heading back to Tokyo!

Snow wear and equipment is required for the trip - you can either bring 
your own, or rent with JapanTravel.

Shop the experience here: https://goo.gl/6TsThX

+++ NEWS

- Free for all on Olympics advertising?
- Long-lost Monet recovered, but badly damaged
- Coincheck loot went to Canada
- How low can unemployment figures go?
- eBay comes back to town via M&A

=> Free for all on Olympics advertising?

Interesting decision by the government to decide against passing any 
laws to prevent media firms and others from capitalizing on the 2020 
Olympics and Paralympics. Other countries have typically passed special 
laws preventing anyone from "unauthorized expressions that imply an 
association with the Olympics" (quoted from Yomiuri's article). 
According to Deputy PM, Taro Aso, special laws are not necessary, 
because the Olympics brand and logo are already protected by Japan's 
existing intellectual property laws. ***Ed: That may well be, but 
allowing firms to claim some association, even though they are not 
official sponsors, does seem to dilute the value of the tens of millions 
of dollars that official sponsors have had to lay out. That said, Aso's 
approach will no doubt stimulate a bunch of new businesses and websites 
relating to the Olympics, and that will be good for the economy overall 
for the next 2 years.** (Source: TT commentary from the-japan-news.com, 
Mar 3, 2018)


=> Long-lost Monet recovered, but badly damaged

A little-known fact is that in the 1910s and 1920s, a Japanese 
industrialist was one of the major buyers of European impressionist art. 
Kojiro Matsukata collected dozens of Monets, Van Goghs, Cezannes, and 
others, with 12 paintings being bought directly from Monet whom 
Matsukata counted as a personal friend. During WWII, Matsukata sent the 
bulk of his art to the Louvre for safe-keeping, and after the war his 
family temporarily lost control of the collection as the French 
government confiscated them due to Japan being a member of the Axis 
powers. All but 14 paintings were eventually returned, with one 
exception being a large Monet called Weeping Willow on the Water-Lily 
Pond (1916). This painting actually went missing and was recently 
discovered at the Louvre, rolled up in a storage facility there. 
Unfortunately, the Louvre doesn't always live up to its name and had 
allowed the painting to massively deteriorate, such that half the 
painting has molded away and the other half is largely 
indistinguishable. Nonetheless, the painting has been returned and 
Tokyo's National Museum of Western Art has said it will restore and 
display it by 2019. ***Ed: Not many people know that one of the best 
versions of Van Gogh's sunflowers is available for viewing most days at 
the Sompo Japan insurance company's corporate tower in Shinjuku. It is 
mesmorizingly beautiful.** (Source: TT commentary from 
hyperallergic.com, Mar 3, 2018)

http://bit.ly/1SCtGNH [Sompo Japan art site]

=> Coincheck loot went to Canada

An organization called Blockchain Intelligence Group Inc. (BIG) has said 
that it has traced the majority of the 523m coins stolen from the 
Coincheck exchange to accounts in Vancouver, and that about 5% have been 
converted and sent back as other digital currency to accounts in Japan. 
Apparently the theft is associated with 11 anonymous addresses, and 
these are being tracked by both the NEM organization in Singapore, as 
well as freelancers like BIG. NEM has already tagged the stolen coins, 
and plans to release an auto-detection algorithm, to alert exchanges 
around the world that the coins are stolen. ***Ed: The efforts the NEM 
organization is putting in will go a long way to alleviating fears by 
other digital currency holders, although clearly it's the security of 
the exchanges themselves that is still the biggest concern. Also 
wondering when Coincheck will explain how it plans to raise enough money 
to compensate its users?** (Source: TT commentary from bloomberg.com, 
Mar 2, 2018)


=> How low can unemployment figures go?

According to the government, the unemployment rate has fallen to its 
lowest level in 24 years, 2.4% in January. Further, jobs availability is 
at its highest level in almost 40 years. There are currently 159 job 
openings for every 100 job seekers. ***Ed: While this may be a good 
thing, it's disturbing that there has been barely any movement in wages 
being paid. Fundamentally, if there is a shortage of workers then how 
come employers are not competing for them by offering higher salaries? 
Our take is that most of the job openings available are in technology 
and sales, and are not an accurate representation of the general 
robustness of the economy. Despite this "tight" labor market, most 
workers are stuck in traditional, low-paying jobs in struggling small- 
to medium-sized companies. So the situation continues to be difficult in 
this sector - both for staff and firms.** (Source: TT commentary from 
asia.nikkei.com, Mar 2, 2018)


=> eBay comes back to town via M&A

The Japanese media is having a field day crowing about how eBay, after 
bowing out of the Japanese market years ago, is now back in Japan by 
virtue of an acquisition it made this week. eBay has bought Q0010.jp, a 
reseller and re-shipper for overseas Japanese (and others) wanting to 
buy products in Japan. Qoo10.jp is a subsidiary of Giosis, which eBay 
already has a stake in, and so the deal is all in the family (and thus 
at an undisclosed valuation). eBay will transfer Qoo10.jp's 250 staff to 
eBay's existing office in Japan. ***Ed: Although as the Nikkei points 
out Qoo10.jp's membership numbers are just 1% of Rakuten's (9m versus 
90m people), they shouldn't get too cocky. eBay has some seriously good 
technology and financial firepower, and will be in the game to win back 
market share from Rakuten and Amazon Japan.** (Source: TT commentary 
from techcrunch.com, Feb 28, 2016)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of 
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.


---------- Bilingual vet clinic opens in Azabu ------------

PetLife Veterinary Clinic is opening its doors in central Tokyo from 
March, providing bilingual (Japanese/English) services for both the 
domestic and international communities. The clinic provides experienced 
veterinarians with many years of experience serving families and their 
pets using the latest technology. They have a compassionate and welcome 
approach and aim to nurture close bonds within the local community.

The official opening is March 6. Pet owners are welcome to come visit 
and check out the new center.

1F. Daiichi Bldg., 2-3-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044.
TEL:03-6807-4058 Website: http://petlife.co.jp/en/


--------- UK/Germany Japan Travel Seminars --------------

Title: "Latests Trends in Japan's Inbound Travel Boom"
A series of free travel seminars in the UK and Germany, by Terrie Lloyd

Japan is in the midst of the world's largest inbound travel boom in the 
last 20 years. From 2011 until 2017, the number of inbound travelers has 
increased 450%, from 6.2m to 28m (estimated) by March 31st this year. 
What is exciting about this US$40bn+ travel boom is that more than 50% 
of the market is held by non-Japanese firms, and that means great 
opportunities for UK and German firms as the growth continues.

As founder and CEO of one of Japan's top inbound travel sites, 
www.japantravel.com, Terrie Lloyd is at the forefront of the market, 
helping to make and shape trends as the market evolves. His particular 
focus is on repeat travelers, who now account for more than 55% of the 
flow, and who are demanding more specialist experiences that typically 
define a maturing market. His presentation will share the latest news on 
what trends are emerging, and where the opportunities lie for UK and 
European firms.

Terrie will give some specific examples of new travel products and 
services now under development, particularly highlighting hiking and 
trekking trails in Kyushu, a still-underdeveloped part of Japan (read, 
low cost, great food, and no hordes of tourists)

Speaking Locations
Seminar 1: London, UK, Monday March 5th in the London CBD ( 2 Stephen 
Street, London, W1T 1AN, +44-20-3457-0170)
Seminar 2 & 3: Berlin, Germany, Thursday March 8th at a location close 
to the ITB expo (Scenery Room, Ku' Damm 101 Hotel, Kurfürstendamm 101, 
10711 Berlin, +49-30-3110-3781)

The seminars are free of charge. Other details will be confirmed as they 
come to hand. Interested attendees can reserve a space, by emailing us 
at jerome.lee at japantravel.com.


*** In Terrie's Take 933 we lamented the overcrowding of Kyoto by 
foreign tourists, and this sparked a flood of responses. Some of the 
better ones are here:

=> Reader: You said, in part, "As I write this, I am returning on a 
Nozomi shinkansen after doing a speaking engagement in Kyoto..."

Actually, try traveling on a Hikari nowadays, which is where all the 
tourists are! My discount card restricts me to Hikari, and for specific 
trains at certain times I need to book 5 or more days in advance to be 
sure of getting a D or E seat. I've traveled on trains where the doors 
on the non-platform side of the cars are packed with suitcases. It's 
getting pretty grim.

=> Reader (in Italy)

Kyoto is crowded, and that is creating problems... How can this really 
be a surprise? I lived in Venice (Italy) for 3 years when I was at 
University, and I remember how it was as a resident of a massive tourist 
destination. In fact, Venezia is a city that sees no slumps on tourism. 
There are no other cities to compare it to, not even the canals in 
Amsterdam have the same level of atmosphere. Since it is only a few 
hours away from the other major tourist destinations of Austria and 
Croatia, anyone coming to Italy from Germany or Eastern Europe will 
definitely stop over in Venezia.

As a resident, I clearly remember how the winter months were the best. 
The number of tourists was low, and so was the amount of garbage in the 
canals, the smell of sweat disappeared, and crowding in the tight 
"calles" of a city without many roads, eased. Now, Kyoto is witnessing 
what happens to resident's manners when a flood of tourists come in. I 
feel for them and have to say that I would have been happy to shove many 
a tourist in the canals... sometimes!

Transportation wise, Kyoto's situation is better. In Venezia when 
tourists mis-step while boarding a gondola, they end up taking a bath in 
the canal! In Kyoto they only have to deal with crowded buses. Also, 
seeing the trend, I wonder if more "tourist traps" will appear, selling 
worthless junk for high prices to the unaware visitors...?

=> Reader

While I agree with most of your observations about the Kyoto tourist 
market, I was surprised by your statement about the lack of data. In 
fact, Kyoto City puts out detailed numbers on total visitors and foreign 
visitors, so here is a link:

http://bit.ly/2oJI28d [Kyoto City visitor stats PDF]



=> Kyoto Kibune Riverside Walk, Kyoto
Enjoy cool air, healing power of the forest

Kibune River is a tributary of the Kamogawa, which runs through central 
Kyoto. From May to September, the restaurants alongside the Kibune set 
up tables that extend out over the river. It is a good way to enjoy the 
cool air and a delicious meal, while avoiding the hot humid summer. 
Kifune Shrine has also become famous as a healing Power Spot. The shrine 
is a 30-minute walk from Kibune-guchi Station on the Eizan Tesudo Line.


=> Aso Fire Festival, Kyushu
A springtime celebration

The Aso region of central Kumamoto celebrates a month-long fire festival 
every year at the end of winter, to prepare for the upcoming growing 
season. Several events make up the festival, including the Dai 
Himonjiyaki, the main event. This involves the lighting of a giant 
Chinese character representing "fire" on the hillside of Ojo-dake on the 
second Saturday of March. The surrounding grasslands are also burned to 
keep the pastureland in good condition, in a ritual known as no-yaki. A 
fire swinging ritual, hifuri shinji, takes place at Aso Shrine on the 
third Saturday in March. This year, the main event will take place 
Saturday - Mar 17th 2018, 6:00pm - 8:00pm.




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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