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.

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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 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

Rotary-UN Day and putting Service Above Self

RI President Sakuji Tanaka stands by a section of the Berlin Wall on display at the UN, during Rotary-UN Day. The first of three Rotary Global Peace Forums begins in Berlin, Germany, on 30 November. Photo by Monika Lozinska/Rotary Images

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

After the RI Board meeting in November, I attended a memorable Rotary-UN Day in New York City.

While this annual event is important because it reinforces the long-standing relationship between the United Nations and Rotary International, this year was different from past Rotary-UN Days. Less than a week before the event, Hurricane Sandy hit, knocking out power and flooding parts of the area. The city was still struggling to get back on its feet during our event. Yet 950 people of the 1,300 who registered for the event were able to attend. Continue reading

Seeing Peace Through Service

Brian Thompson, District 7070 governor-nominee, right, and his wife, Karen, with RI President Sakuji Tanaka in Vancouver during the Zone 24-32 Institute.

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

I was moved to see my theme for the year, Peace Through Service, in action once again in the Rotary world, especially at a Rotary Institute in Yeosu, Korea.

At the institute, I learned about some of the Korean Rotarians’ effective membership initiatives and how they reached out to Rotarians in Japan. This is significant because, historically, Koreans and Japanese have had difficult relations. Through Rotary, though, they showed that we’re all part of a non-political organization. They told me it is more important to have person-to-person relationships. Rotarians just want to do good in the world and change lives. I have seen this over and over during my worldwide travels. Continue reading

RI President: Rotarians promoting service and peace

President Tanaka and club presidents from Hong Kong visit a site in Mongolia. Photo by Peter Pang

By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese

Throughout my travels in September, I saw Rotarians promoting Peace Through Service and diligently helping others.

One event that comes to mind, which I attended in September, was the 11th Korea-Japan Goodwill Conference in Tokyo. It brought together more than 1,400 Rotarians from two countries that are experiencing conflict. I was proud to see Rotarians talking about promoting friendship between their countries. Many Rotarians feel that, despite what politicians say, Rotarians share common ideals of service, and this attitude can help transcend conflict. Continue reading