Community news

By on December 3, 2012
Bringing smiles back to Tohoku
More than 18 months on from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the rebuilding process in Tohoku is moving forward with municipal, government and NGO initiatives working on rebuilding infrastructure and restoring commerce in the areas affected by the disaster. Getting less attention is the issue of post traumatic stress, or PTSD. For voluntary group Niko Niko Taishi – The Smile Ambassadors, the long-term emotional and mental health of Tohoku’s children is a particular cause for concern.Founded by family entertainer Guy Totaro, the group began working in Tohoku shortly after the disaster, collaborating with the Tyler Foundation to create the ‘Shine On! Smile Ambassador Program’. Between April 2011 and March 2012, the program saw Guy and other entertainers perform for and give circus workshops at 85 schools and shelters in areas worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami.“Laughter is the best medicine. It boosts the immune system, increases body oxygen levels and releases endorphins and serotonin in the brain,” Totaro says. “Our silly bi-lingual shows are designed not only to tickle funny bones, but to also expand perceptions, play with expectations and inspire imaginations. To avoid PTSD, kids need to process and let go of their stress, frustrations and grief in a safe and fun environment. Our circus workshops promote positive self esteem, con dence and an ‘If I can do that, I can do anything’ attitude”.

The Tyler Foundation’s support ended in March, but Guy and the Niko Niko Taishi – The Smile Ambassadors have been back in Tohoku operating independently since the summer. The group’s outreach continues to grow with their most recent tour in mid-November seeing them entertain 300 new kids at schools and temporary housing facilities in Minamisoma and Ishinomaki. This brings their total to well over 8,500 kids to date and they have no plans on stopping.

Niko Niko Taishi – The Smile Ambassadors are actively seeking sponsorship and volunteers to help them continue their rebuilding efforts. To nd out how you can be a Smile Ambassador:

Wanted: Volunteers  to walk, feed and groom dogs
Sippo Net, a dog rescue and support system under Wanwan Party Club, a non-prot organization in Fuchu founded in 2010, looks after the welfare of dogs by re-training those with behavior issues and making sure they are well taken care of until they find committed families to adopt them.  While the number of people in rural areas willing to give up dogs for adoption outnumber the takers, it is the opposite case in urban communities.  Sippo Net’s role is to put in place a balanced distribution with the hope of reducing the number of animal slaughter. Dogs adopted through the Sippo Net system receive regular counselor visits and there are no referral or consultation fees. To get involved, call 0544-54-1441

NPO Wanwan Party Club

Inauguration of Lycée français international de Tokyo (LFIT)
After 52 years since it rst operated in Tokyo, Lycee Franco-Japonais has been renamed to Lycée français international de Tokyo (LFIT) or French International School of Tokyo from the 2012 school term.   The rebranding coincides with a move to its newly acquired campus in Takinogawa,  Kita ward in October.  Starting this school year, students of Lycee Franco-Japonais at both Fujimi and Ryuhoku campuses were relocated to the newly inaugurated spacious area built to accommodate 1,200 students in the years to come.  Currently, the school has 850 students.

(Left to right) Ambassador of France to Japan His Excellency Mr. Masset,  Minister for French nationals abroad Ms.Helen Conway-Mouret,  Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ms. Makiko Tanaka and Vice-Governor of Tokyo Mr. Ando cutting the ribbon at the inaugural ceremony.

Love hormone affects men’s fidelity
A study team investigating oxytocin’s role in various human behaviors led by Dr. Rene Hurlemann of the University of Bonn found that men in committed relationships who were given oxytocin, the love hormone, kept a physical distance with an unknown woman they nd attractive.

A group of healthy heterosexual males were given a dose of oxytocin through nasal spray.  Forty-ve minutes later,  they were introduced to a female they described as attractive.  As the woman moved toward and away from the men, the distance meter indicated that the men in committed relationships maintained the greater distance than those who were single.  (Oxytocin Modulates Social Distance between Males and Females, The Journal of Neuroscience, DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2755-12.20120)

World’s best waiter
After competing with 14 countries, 35-year-old maitre d’ from Japan Shin Miyazaki won the Georges Baptiste Cup as world’s topnotch server.  Miyazaki earned the title after he outperformed the other contestants in a nine-round ability test under the careful evaluation of a jury of experts.  Shin Miyazaki works at Chateau Restaurant Joel Robuchon.

Old-fashion baking a history?
Not for Uppercrust, a cakery in Tokyo run by a foreign mum who puts to use all the nooks and crannies of an old-fashioned kitchen to create time-honoured comfort foods that the family will enjoy.  Uppercrust’s home-made cakes, breads, cookies, cupcakes and chocolates are all eggless and made from the nest ingredients.  To order your theme cake or sweets for the holidays and other special occasions, call tel. 080-3257-9430.

Taxi for expectant mothers
Nihon Kotsu, also known as Japan’s yellow cab, has launched a 24-hour priority service for expectant mothers in all 23 wards of Tokyo. The service hopes to create a demand by mothers-to-be in need of a stand-by transport to the hospital on or before their due date.  The cost to bene t from the service is ¥400 on top of the taxi fare.  Customers are required upon reservation, to  provide the taxi company in advance, the name and location of the hospital, delivery due date and telephone number.    Tel. 03-5755-2336

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