Scholarship program in Japan pays dividends

Yoneyama alumni

Alumni of the Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation work with Rotary members on a clean up project.

By Masa Kato

As a regional communications specialist for Rotary International, I get excited when I hear stories about students who have had their lives changed by Rotary scholarships. Lasitha Eriyawa, a Sri Lankan, came to Japan in 2001 to pursue his college education. During his senior year, he received a scholarship from the Rotary Yoneyama Memorial Foundation, a program administered by an independent foundation named after Umekichi Yoneyama, the Father of Rotary in Japan. Continue reading

Seeing Rotary face to face

Steven Sundstrom and Dr. Koki Inai

Rotary Regional Grants Officer Steven Sundstrom (right) with Dr. Koki Inai of the Rotary Club of Hiroshima South.

By Steven Sundstrom, RI regional grants officer

As a regional grants officer for Rotary, I spend most of my work time at Rotary headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, working with members around the world, including in Japan. Given the time difference, communication is naturally often by email. The first time I traveled to Japan for work was for the Rotary Institute in Nagoya, Japan. I met many Rotarians in person who I had been emailing for years. We were meeting face to face for the first time, but somehow we were already old friends. “お会いが出来て嬉しいですね!Nice to finally meet you!” Continue reading

Natural farming and the sanctity of life

Natural farming

Tajima-san, second from left, and Lorena Rodriguez, right, on the natural farm in Tochigi.

By Lorena Rodriguez, 2017-19 Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

In November, I traveled to Tochigi, to visit Tajima-san’s farm, where he practices natural farming. Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher, dedicated his life to demonstrating that “natural farming” can provide us with the conditions and the food necessary to survive on this planet. Continue reading

Mixing food, fun, and Rotary service in Nagoya

Judy Ongg

Judy Ongg, actress, singer and Rotary celebrity ambassador for polio eradication, takes part in the festivities.

By Tetsuzo Fukuda, Rotary Club of Nagoya-Wago and polio plus committee chair for District 2760 (Japan)

We held our sixth annual World Food and Fureai Festival 27-28 October in a park in downtown Nagoya (fureai is a Japanese word meaning interaction). Under a beautiful autumn sky, more than 70,000 people gathered for an outdoor food festival featuring foods from around the world, presentations about Rotary’s humanitarian work, and entertainment. We broke our record for ticket sales and onsite donations.

Continue reading

Whirlwind tour of alumni in Japan

Bill Rintz, second from left, in the radio studio with alumni in District 2650.

By Bill Rintz, Rotary alumni relations specialist

A visit to Japan last month took me on a week-long, whirlwind tour. My visits to multiple Rotary districts gave me the chance to meet members of the Rotary family, including classically-trained musicians, development workers, school teachers, architects, university professors, business leaders, and young professionals. Despite their varied backgrounds, those I met have something in common: they proudly call themselves Rotary alumni. Continue reading

Mediation in the life of a peace builder

Dimitra Messini, left, discusses mediation with another participant of the workshop.

Dimitra Messini, left, discusses mediation with another participant of the workshop.

By Dimitra Messini, a 2013-15 Rotary Peace Fellow at International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan 

Having chosen to pursue human rights as a lawyer, mediation has been a major part of my life. Even in my home country of Greece where mediation is not a popular practice, I have used mediation to resolve issues, helping married couples in prolonged disputes or companies with substantial lawsuits. Every kind of law, from criminal to civil, has a place for mediation.  Continue reading

Rotary, a matter of the heart

Manaka

Manaka Kuwabara

By Joseph Batory, past president of the Rotary Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Six years ago, I agreed to serve on my district’s scholarship committee. I now have many fond memories of helping 12 students attain fully subsidized Rotary International scholarships abroad. I have also counseled and befriended 23 Rotary scholars from around the world who have studied in Philadelphia.

I could easily highlight some of the “scholar characters” I have met or even some marriages that have occurred among Rotary scholars studying here in Philadelphia, but I would rather emphasize just one story that illustrates the magnificence of Rotary. Continue reading

Twins’ holiday wish fulfilled

Masaya and Tomoya with their letters from Santa

Masaya and Tomoya with their letters from Santa

By Tomomi Kumagai, Fund Development Coordinator, Rotary International Japan Office, Tokyo, Japan, in English and Japanese

In early December, we received a message from a father of three. Two of his children are 10-year-old twin boys, Masaya and Tomoya. The father wrote:

“Our twin boys made a Christmas wish list this year. They are asking Santa Claus to make half Continue reading

My mountaintop experience

Sunrise on the summit of Mt. Fuji.

Sunrise on the summit of Mt. Fuji.

By Valentina, a current Rotary Youth Exchange student from the United States to Japan who received round-trip airfare through United’s 10 Million Charity Miles Giveaway.

I have been in Japan for only two weeks, but already so much has happened! The day I arrived I was greeted by local Rotary members and my host mother at the airport. I couldn’t believe I was in Japan. Continue reading

RI President: Reflecting on peace


By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

My visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial made a deep impression on me. Walking through the rows of empty chairs, one for each of the bombing’s 168 victims, I thought of the families, friends, and loved ones left behind. Continue reading