Terrie's Take 956 - An Unsung Hero with a Pragmatic Approach for Orphans, e-biz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Aug 6 08:48:25 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, Aug 05, 2018, Issue No. 956

- What's New -- An Unsung Hero with a Pragmatic Approach for Orphans
- News -- BOJ's take on why there is low-no inflation continues
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Wolves in Saitama, Waterfalls in Tsuwano
- News Credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW - An Unsung Hero with a Pragmatic Approach for Orphans

The news of the moment in the USA is outrage at Donald Trump for 
implying that LeBron James is a dummy, and Melania Trump trying to fix 
her husband's outburst. The comments were particularly badly timed given 
that LJ has just opened a special elementary school for disadvantaged 
kids in Akron, Ohio, where he grew up. Using his own money, he has led 
the development and investment of the school which aims to help up to 
240 disadvantaged kids a year. Trump should do a bit more homework 
before lashing out. And if you're wondering, actually LJ is really, 
really smart. See this 2014 article:

https://es.pn/2OJrmZP [LeBron James' brain power]

In any case, this got us thinking about some of Japan's equally selfless 
heroes, doing their bit to make the lives of the disadvantaged better. 
Actually, foreigners play an outsized role in this area, in the form of 
food banks, psychological counseling, conservation, and even assisting 
orphans making the leap from an institution to supporting themselves.

Recently we interviewed one such selfless hero, Michael Clemons, the 
founder of the NPO named YouMeWe NPO and a social impact fund called 
eMPOWER. Clemons is well known for his work with Living Dreams, and now 
with his own NPO has recently been able to land the Data Comms firm, 
Colt, as its main corporate sponsor. Here we focus on his work at 
YouMeWe. Be forewarned that this is a long interview, but we think 
you'll agree with us that Clemon's viewpoint and life experiences are 
very inspiring.

[Interview with Michael Clemons about www.youmewenpo.org.]

TT: Tell us a bit about your background.

Clemons: When I was 6, we were traveling in the family car when we got 
hit by a speeding fire engine. I flew out the back window and was 
hospitalized. My grandmother came to visit me wearing a Japanese 
medallion as a necklace. When I asked her about it she said that my 
grandfather had lived in Yamanashi-ken after WWII and that if I asked 
nicely he might give me something from Japan. So from 6 until about 9 
when he died, I would visit him and each time he would pass a coin or a 
medal from Japan. I kept my box of Japanese mementos until meeting my 
roommate in college, who is half Japanese by his mom and American by his 
dad. He invited me to Tokyo in August 1989, which was the height of the 
bubble, and I found Tokyo euphoric! I tell people today it was as if 
everyone had won the lottery and got a bonus that day.

I finished school at University of San Francisco and my first job was in 
Japan from 1993 where I eventually got into banking. I was asked to be 
Santa Claus in 2007 by a friend who sponsored an orphanage in Hiroo. 
Apparently the land was gifted by the Emperor's ancestors and as a 
result the posh real estate could never be touched, but it had a just-OK 
group of buildings; too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. 
The first thing that struck me was that the kids were not 100% Japanese 
and I was incensed to learn that they had to live in an institutional 
home because of misfortune.

TT: What drew you to actually helping out those kids?

Clemons: While I continued being Santa in subsequent years I also 
learned that my roommate in college had a son who was born with Down's 
Syndrome. These two experiences were in the back of my mind as I started 
a role as COO at Barclays Japan. We had a monthly lunch club and one of 
the speakers was a lady who started an NPO after losing her child to 
Down's Syndrome. Her objective was to support similar families in 
Shibuya, rallying them together with the purpose of getting their kids 
jobs. Sobered by the fact that in the 1980-90's no one would hire them, 
they did something practical which was to start a bakery called Palette 
Okashiya, which even today still employs people with Down's syndrome.

I started asking around the firm to see if we could help them and 
discovered that Barclays had $2,000,000 USD in the Asian region alone 
for charity and started donating money in Japan - which eventually lead 
to me winning the Chairman's Award! I simply wanted to help people who 
were creating an opportunity for kids like my friend's son.

Amy Moyers-Knopp and Miho Walker of Living Dreams approached me about 10 
years ago and asked us to sponsor an idea they had to start something 
called DAA (Designing Artists Academy) which is a 2 week program where 
artists volunteer their time and the kids living in the homes could be 
taught arts ranging from photography to dance. We sponsored it the first 
2 years and that started my keen interest in helping the homes. I feel 
that kids do not ask to be born. But when they are, despite the 
circumstances, they deserve everything that life can offer. Many of 
these little humans are very stoic about their circumstances and 
completely selfless. For example, when we take them to Disney for a day 
trip they never ask for anything in the gift shop, while other kids 
can't grab enough things to put in the cart.

At YouMeWe, we have focused on what happens after they leave the home, 
as we know too well that over the past 10 years we have lost contact 
with the kids who would have been 18 in 2008. We not only want to help 
them as early as possible to get employable skills but we also want to 
create a sort of village for them to come back to online or in person - 
a network that can help them out in their futures, much as we rely on 
our families and our extended networks.

TT: What kind of background do the kids themselves have? Why aren't 
their extended families taking them in?

Clemons: What I rarely discuss is that if these kids were not in the 
homes, they would probably be dead. That is the seriousness of abuse in 
Japan. Many of the kids are not necessarily orphans but rather have been 
taken off their parents due to abuse. The parents have no idea where 
they are physically. There are also some there because of poverty, where 
the family cannot afford to raise them. And, there is the occasional 
child from another country whose parents simply quit him and left him 
stranded in Japan.

MANY of these kids are half. Half every nationality you can imagine. 
Where the father has returned to his country and the mom has died of 
cancer and no one wanted him. Or the father has died and the mom has run 
off.  As far as being in their extended families, it was only after 2011 
that the law was TEMPORARILY changed to allow their extended family to 
adopt them post the tsunami - but then the window closed. So now while 
those kids are still part of an extended family they have been cut off 
from future benefits of being a Tohoku survivor... Now is when those 
extended families could still use financial assistance - unfortunately 
we do not know who they are and thus can't help them. In my group, only 
2 kids from Tohoku post the 2011 disaster have moved into our homes.

In Japan it is almost a divine right not to give up your kids from your 
bloodline nor is it even imaginable that you would want someone to come 
into your family tree who isn't blood related. Only 21 kids were adopted 
last year as far as I understand. I personally only know of one wealthy 
British couple who adopted a half African/Japanese boy at 15, and a 
third generation couple who adopted a baby and took it back to Chicago - 
only two in all the years I have been in this space. Many of the kids 
are seen as tainted. "Throw away kids".

There are summer matsuris where the foreign moms come for the day, then 
on leaving they wave goodbye to these kids and go back to wherever they 
live in Japan. You can see that the parental bond is clearly not there, 
as the child indifferently waves goodbye. It's really sad.

There are 30,000 children living in over 600 homes from Hokkaido to 
Kumamoto. 14,000 live in Foster Care. The United Nations Human Rights 
Commission thinks it should be the other way around - with 14,000 in 
institutional homes and 30,000 in foster care. That is just not a 
reality in Japan. To their credit, it appears the government is pushing 
more for foster care as evidenced from the fact that the number of 
smaller children are decreasing in the homes we work with.

Babies born to mothers in prison are taken from the hospital as early as 
2 weeks and placed in a special home for babies. They live there until 
they are two. They then move them to a different home where they usually 
will reside until 18. Many well-balanced and well-adjusted children live 
and prosper together living in family pods of about 6 children, with 3 
staff, who rotate 24/7. On the other hand, too often I see 2-3 year olds 
who are traumatized about the move from one home to the other, and hang 
on to a staff member for dear life for months afterwards, for fear that 
they will be moved again. That happened to me at 2, I know what the 
affects are.

Personally, I prefer the idea of the children living together 
(especially siblings) in a quasi family environment rather than in and 
out of foster care, suffering from further rejection. These are not 
Harry Potter movies with everyone at long tables and sleeping in cold 
quarters. They are like siblings and in often they are siblings - living 
together, eating, studying, and doing laundry.

The sudden change at 2 years old and the in-and-out of foster care is 
heartless and has to have a lasting negative affect on the children.

TT: You seem to be taking a very pragmatic approach to helping these 
kids get ready to support themselves. Why?

Clemons: I see Japan as my home. I have been here my entire adult life 
and am raising my own children here. I also see Japan's plights as my 
own. More people over 65 years old per capita, with 500,000 more turning 
65 every year, and less children under 15 years old per capita than 
anywhere else in the world. Rather than a charity, we call YouMeWe a 
Social Enterprise. We want to help the kids get the skills to be able to 
focus on the opportunities presented by Japan's demographic constraints, 
by teaching the kids how to teach the elderly how to use smartphones and 
ICT skills. We also have set up computer labs in Philippines, Malaysia, 
Indonesia and a refugee community center in Samos, Greece, so the kids 
can be connected globally, see they are special in being dual 
nationality, and helping them if they would like to teach Japanese 
online to the SouthEast Asian youth.

25 years ago, I did not have an iPhone or laptop when I came to Japan. 
25 years from now I have no idea what technology my children will be 
using as it has not been invented yet. Something like 60% of the jobs 
over the next ten years have not been invented yet. Like investment bank 
execution traders who were replaced by algorithms, I know that what will 
matter going forward is Communication, Collaboration, and looking at the 
earth more holistically for solutions. When trying to solve the problems 
of Japan, we endeavor to help the kids be part of the solution. This is 
what we call "the impact of the 30,000."

TT: What happens when these kids turn 18?

Clemons: Many have to find a place to live. Some disappear. I have seen 
one who got a job, moved from one city to another, was "power harassed" 
out of her job, and at 19 was pregnant and living alone with no money. 
We had to connect her with the local ward office and get her on welfare. 
There are positive situations too, though. Such as where Bic Camera as 
part of their CSR program, is offering apartments to kids for the first 
6 years out of the institutional homes, rent free. In different parts of 
Japan they may also be allowed to stay on at their homes, so long as 
they are in school or employed, up to 22 years old. Some go to school, 
some come back undernourished, and need to eat as they have run out of 
money. There are too many stories.

One counselor in Fukushima told me, "I am in charge of 39 kids, I have 
my own 5 children at home and I have 39 adults calling me constantly 
with boyfriend/girlfriend advice, job quitting, job seeking". Wow! This 
leaves me in awe of the people like that counselor, who have dedicated 
their lives to helping these children.

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TT: How many kids go on to college? What are the impediments?

Clemons: I understand that the current rate is 16%, vs. the national 
average of 60% - at least this is up from 9% previously. Only 5% have 
WiFi access in their institutional homes and about 35% are 
scholastically two grade levels behind their peers at school, due to 
trauma or being moved around so much. Despite their challenges, Japan 
doesn't hold these struggling kids back a year, which really compounds 
their issues. What's worse,  bullying is a given, as soon as the other 
kids know their circumstances.

I had started career assessment tests in 2016 when I woke up one morning 
and asking, "Who cares about what we are doing?!" I realized that if we 
can focus the kids on helping with Japan's challenges and at the same 
time sparking a flame of interest in their capabilities by seeing what 
their aptitude is, in a career test, then we can then pair them with 
mentors to help them prepare. I wanted them to learn the basics, like 
"Never take no for an answer," and if they want to go to school but 
don't have the money, then look for the money! I feel my LinkedIn 
network is asleep. I feel I have to shake it to find an opportunity for 
the child who wants to go to beauty school, or for the child who wants 
to work fixing TVs, or the one wanting to go on to College. We need to 
build the village of support.

TT: You are teaching English and IT skills to these kids. Practically 
speaking, doesn't that interfere with their schooling or studies? What's 
the benefit, actually?

Clemons: The English is in many ways complimentary to what they are 
already learning in school. We are rolling out the NightZooKeeper 
software to try and teach kids in they way they want to learn - using a 
fun, game-like platform. With English, we are looking to engage kids and 
connect them to kids in other countries, so they can see each other's 
blogs and lives.

As for the IT skills, in a recent case we saw the home staff keeping 
their old familiar computers while the kids received brand new PCs 
through Living Dreams, 350 in total. We went up with the team to make 
sure that they had WiFi access. As learn and understand the 
vulnerability of kids when they leave these institutional homes and that 
they need help to prepare them for the big moment - well that's when we 
start getting support from the staff. Some homes have lost steam and we 
are trying to re-ignite the relationships with different offerings, 
while others are champions which are ravenous for new experiences.

One child built his own computer and is the head of his PC club at 
school and will be the Tech Lead for our Code Club. Another child 
suffered from nightmares about the family he lost in the 2011 tsunami, 
and now with the computers and software, we have indirectly been able to 
help relieve his trauma. We are not taking away from their studies but 
rather we are hopefully inspiring them to get connected and to 
understand how to use software to articulate their ideas.

TT: We always imagine the Japanese institutions as being aloof and 
sealed off from the outside world. How did you get inside?

Clemons: They are sealed off, due to trust issues and some of the 
children having to live in hiding. We have relationships with ten homes 
mainly; 5 in Tohoku and 5 in Tokyo, but over 33 in total, including 
Kumamoto and collaborations in Nagoya. It takes time to build up that trust.

What we do not want, nor do the homes, is a one-off t-shirt-clad group 
photo where no one returns the day after doing a CSR event. We want and 
continue to take a deeper interest in the kids individually and the 
staff see this and tolerate us. I would not say that all homes are keen 
to be dealing with us, but when we consistently come back again and 
again, they warm up. Remember, we are dealing with Japanese from all 
types of sub-cultures - for example, Tohoku people have very different 
values to Tokyo-based people. There is still a lot of "show me and I 
will believe you" attitude in these homes.

TT: How many kids have your helped?

Clemons: We think about 600 kids now have WiFi access. Since 2014 we 
have had countless programs going on, and now the first group is turning 
18 and they are looking for jobs. We are as far north as Ofunato in 
Iwate, Sendai, Fukushima, Shin-Shirakawa, Ota-ku in Tokyo, Itabashi-ku, 
Kiyose, and Tanashi. We also have relationships with Yokohama, Nagoya 
and Kumamoto.

We have the structure to expand but only want to do so where there is a 
real demand and where we have staff under an area manager. We would love 
for all 30,000 kids to have their own device but that alone is a $100mm 
project, not including the cost of training.

TT: What are the biggest impediments to your expanding the program?

Clemons: We are a volunteer based organization with a focus on helping 
our youth get hired by showing them ways to sustain themselves i.e. ICT 
skills training to elderly and paid language training. So, as a 
volunteer organization there are various levels of enthusiasm and in 
many cases we may wind up counseling the volunteers due to their own 

While I have been in this space for ten years, YouMeWe only became 
official in January 2018, so it is still establishing how it is 
different from other NPOs. I do know, though, that at various stages of 
maturity you find that certain types of volunteers fit in while others 
do not. One good direction to take is to capitalize on what companies 
are wanting to do as CSV (Created Share Values) rather than CSR. This is 
why we have such a great match with Colt, our corporate sponsor. 
Connectivity Matters is their motto and this is very much the basis of 
what we are doing.

TT: How can people help?

Clemons: Keeping in mind my comments at the start of this interview, 
people can help with their experience and skills. We rarely ask for 
money, although of course it is important. Rather, we know you cannot 
get your time back, and as it happens we also value your time more than 
your money. So you could spend that precious time by:

* Translating CommonSense.org or Code Club material from English to 
* Being willing to teach online using NightZooKeeper
* By being a career mentor
* By teaching a course
* By offering internships so the kids can have exposure to your world
* By offering jobs at entry level which you may give to any other person 
on the street
* By outsourcing powerpoint presentations, for a fee
* By helping with projects like connecting the elderly with youth. We 
are working on a project now for the kids to record the life stories of 
the elderly using Story Corps and uploading the audio files to the 
Library of Congress for future generations.

TT: Practically speaking what skill level can you get these kids up to? 
When a company offers them a job, what are they getting?

Clemons: Most of the kids in the champion homes are competing and 
winning certificates with their aptitude in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. 
They have even set up a PC Certification room at one of the homes in 
Itabashi-ku. Some are going further and learning Access. I would not 
want to over-sell their skills, but for kids who went from never 
touching a keyboard 4 years ago, they now able to use software that my 
40-year old secretary is still challenged by!

As a case in point, just recently I saw our trainer Haba-san start a 
PowerPoint class, then I had to leave to have a meeting with the 
Headmaster. When I came back, the kids had created powerpoint slides for 
the first time, and with the push of a button the practice slide folded 
into an origami crane and flew off the screen. Meanwhile the adult staff 
were still using black and white slides and flipping forward, manually.

Stop motion movies have been made...animation using Adobe, animated 

What they cannot do, however, is be dropped in a room full of people and 
be asked to sink or swim. So if someone wants to hire them, they need to 
make sure to train these new staff carefully, as many of them suffer 
from inferiority complexes because of who they are.

I have one 18 year old who I brought into YouMeWe because he was being 
pressured to get a job by April 1 this year. We got his suits and shirts 
so he would look the part of a success-minded candidate, and he was 
excited up until he realized it was a sink or swim situation - and he 
sank. I am personally concerned about his possibly committing suicide, 
so I want him to stay with us until his confidence is built up again.

TT: What salary would these people be expecting?

Clemons: For those who are getting their rent free, I try to explain 
that they already have a base of JPY70,000 a month as that is what they 
would be paying for their six mat rooms. So anything on top of that is 
their combined salary. One guy who came to us was getting JPY11,000 one 
month, then JPY60,000 another, and later JPY100,000 - it was not ideal 
for him at all. So to answer your question, I feel that anything over 
JPY1,000/hour is fine, especially if they have housing already.

TT: Why is the government not taking a greater interest in developing 
these kids' careers beyond 18 years old? Are there programs available 
and if there are, why are the kids not taking them?

Clemons: I feel the government is supporting their existence and the 
staff to care for them until they are 18 but after that it is very much 
ad hoc. I do not know why there is not more of a focus. We would love 
for the government to help getting these kids more prepared by putting 
devices in the homes for each child and helping them help Japan - namely 
by being more connected and global.

It is my experience that at 18 they drop off the grid and this gives us 
a very limited window of time in which to work. We are burning the 
candle at both ends and the sooner we can start with younger kids, the 
fewer kids there will be who are unprepared for the highly competitive 
world of job interviews and actual work.

TT: Is there anything else you'd like readers to know.

Clemons: I feel we need to focus on helping people where they are. So 
having said this, let me tell you a personal story.

Actually, I was a product of a teenage pregnancy. My biological father 
disappeared at 19 and I never knew him, but luckily my mom remarried and 
so I was by no means an orphan. Fast forward to about 2 years ago when a 
donor said I should approach the Masons as they give a lot to charity. I 
responded that my great grandfather was a Mason then proceeded to go 
online to ancestry.com to prove my link to him. I found that the data 
online is much more robust than it used to be. When I clicked on my late 
mother's info, I was surprised to find the marriage certificate of my 
parents when they were teens. I assumed my biological father had passed 
away but instead discovered that he had remarried and I have siblings 
whom I had never known about. I met them on LinkedIn!

I reached out to them and we have all connected now. At 50 I feel my 
life is complete in that regard.

Technology connects us in ways we do not expect. I certainly never 
expected to be affected by the work we do personally but have in a very 
meaningful way.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Airport gets creative in dealing with trashed suitcases
- Fraud down, although still significant
- BOJ's take on why there is low-no inflation continues
- Docomo makes moves in car sharing sector
- Hitachi makes big push on remote workers

=> Airport gets creative in dealing with trashed suitcases

As those hordes of tourists head home with bounty from their Japanese 
shopping trips, they are obviously trying to jam too many goodies into 
their suitcases and busting a few in the process. According to the 
Kansai International Airport (KIX), as many as 300 suitcases are being 
dumped a month, mostly discarded in the many nooks and crannies of the 
facility. KIX now wants tourists to trade in their trashed suitcases at 
a central receiving point, in return for small rewards. ***Ed: It seems 
that by Japanese law discarded suitcases are regarded as lost property, 
causing the KIX to have to store them for a requisite period, or hand 
them over to the police. Not sure whether a pen or some stationery is 
going to be sufficient incentive to overcome laziness though.** (Source: 
TT commentary from bbc.co.uk, Aug 03, 2018)


=> Fraud down, although still significant

The National Police Agency (NPA) has released data showing that although 
fraud cases are down, the problem of gangs deceiving aged people by 
impersonating one of their kids is still a major problem and cost those 
who were deceived was about JPY17.49bn last year. Although the fraud 
level was about 10% less than 2017, the NPA points out that due to 
protection of minors by Japanese law, the number of teen perpetrators 
aged 14-19 has doubled. ***Ed: Gangs are getting smart and taking 
advantage of the law - nothing unusual about that. Of course the NPA had 
to continue their "foreign threat" obsession, by adding that about 10% 
(48 individuals) of people arrested were foreigners.** (Source: TT 
commentary from mainichi.jp, Aug 02, 2018)


=> BOJ's take on why there is low-no inflation continues

Gotta love the Bank of Japan (BOJ) reporting a set of factors beyond its 
control as an excuse as to why the bank hasn't been able to hit its 
promised 2% inflation rate target despite 5 years of trying. Even though 
the BoJ has increased the nation's money supply by 20% over that period, 
inflation is still stuck at just 0.7%. So, what does dear old BOJ give 
as the biggest reasons for low-no inflation?
1. People's persistent tendency to spend less (read: too many poor 
people - so let's blame them)
2. Women and elderly who work for low wages (read: it's their fault they 
are not getting paid more, by accepting low-paying jobs)
3. Popularity of online shopping (read: retailers are selfishly cutting 
costs by eliminating storefronts and staff)
4. Wage increases are not happening (read: selfish employers)
***Ed: Our take is that the real reason inflation is not taking hold is 
"animal spirits". The government needs to conduct genuine reform and 
deregulation in order to get companies investing domestically again. The 
very act of investing will unleash a wave of spending and this will 
result in incomes rising and the nation's animal spirits rising as well. 
Thus the birth rate increases, wages increase, and the country stops 
looking at the demographic black hole it's faced with now.** (Source: TT 
commentary from the-japan-news.com,  Aug 03, 2018)


=> Docomo makes moves in car sharing sector

Following the May launch of a new AI-driven transportation app called My 
Diaz, Docomo has been making some major moves to carve out an 
operational platform to base it on (usually companies make the platform 
first, but DoCoMo has the muscle to do things their way). Among the 
moves made are the investment of JPY2bn for a 5% stake of JapanTaxi, a 
taxi-hailing service created by Nihon Kotsu (one of Japan's largest taxi 
firms), and a partnership with Mercedes-Benz Japan to offer a test-drive 
service. The company also has its "d car share" business that it 
launched in November last year. ***Ed: Although the article says that 
DoCoMo is mostly just being reactive to the pending Chinese invasion of 
car sharing firms, the company has been interested in share economy 
business models for at least 5 years, ever since the establishment of 
its DoCoMo Bike Share service. Share economy businesses offer DoCoMo 
entry to IoT network businesses and subscription models - both of which 
supplement its flattening telecoms income.** (Source: TT commentary from 
asia.nikkei.com, Jul 26, 2018)


=> Hitachi makes big push on remote workers

Just as companies in the USA are concluding that telecommuting doesn't 
work, Japanese mainstream firms are leading a charge towards putting 
more than half of their employees into remote locations (home, regional 
offices, etc.). Hitachi announced earlier this week that it will give up 
to 100,000 employees the freedom to work from home, under a program that 
the company is rolling out over the next three years. The move came 
after a company-wide survey that had over 90,000 employees express 
interest in remote working. Hitachi already has about 15,000 employees 
telecommuting, and says it will use the know how gained to support the 
remainder of its workforce, as well as rolling out a platform for other 
Japanese firms wanting to follow suit. ***Ed: We have telecommuters in 
our business. It works up to a point. The big benefits are no commuting 
time, better employee satisfaction, lower inner-city office costs, and 
often lower salary costs. The negatives are that productivity can go 
down, as being at home offers the temptation to look after home chores 
rather than to work. And then there is the lack of bonding between 
employees, which is super important if you are a bleeding edge company 
in a competitive sector (most of us?).** (Source: TT commentary from 
hrmasia.com, Aug 02, 2018)


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.



No upcoming events this week.



No feedback or corrections this issue.



=> Lost Sacred Wolves and Wolf Worship, Saitama
The biggest and most popular wolf shrine, Mitsumine

Sacred Wolves were lost to us long ago but are still worshipped in 
Japan. Wolves are predators of herbivores which damage rice and crops 
from the fields, and thus were long regarded as a good animal and 
deified as wolf gods by the Japanese people, at least until the 
government decided to change direction toward Westernization and 
Modernization in the late 19th-early 20th century.

"Ookami", the Japanese word for "Great God", is a homonym with a word 
that means "wolf". In fact, prior to Emperor Meiji's ascension to the 
throne in 1867/68 which started the Meiji era (1868-1912), the wolf had 
long been worshipped as a divine messenger for the deity called 
"Ooguchi-no-Magami" meaning the god with a big mouth". He was the god 
for harvest, fire and theft protection, breaking off bad relationships, 
marital harmony, and fertility by people especially living in Edo.


=> Waterfalls of Tsuwano, Shimane
Scenic waterfalls often visited by the domain lord

Tsuwano is a castle town nestled in a narrow valley, between the 
Aonoyama and Shiroyama mountains, the latter loosely translated as 
"castle hill". From its snow fall in winter and bountiful rain in other 
seasons, it is a perfect location for a clean and abundant water supply. 
This abundant and clean water not just helps traditional livelihoods 
like sake brewing, wasabi growing and washi paper making, but also 
creates beautiful waterfalls.

There are four big waterfalls in the area Tsuwano area, including Naru 
Falls, Shiraito Falls, On Falls, and Men Falls. The closest to the town 
center is the Naru Falls, which takes about 20-25 minutes on foot.



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