Category Archives for art

Changing Ourselves First Before Our Country

MARCH 11th and Changing Ourselves First Before the Country

This March 11th I am with all of Japan and the many of you who continue to change the country in small ways and large.
Nations do not change, only individuals.  Hence, the real hard work is not in a public demonstration or movement, but within each of us.
And it is a long and arduous path often made of the smallest steps forward (for me with my fall off the scooter quite literal this year after breaking the neck of my femur) but worthwhile and joyful if one takes it in stride.
Rather than promising large impossible actions this year, given my struggles with rebuilding my own bone after the fall from the scooter, I am going to do small actions for myself and Japan this year with joy, love and focus.
I will focus on rebuilding my roots — rather than searching for the fruit of actions.
Those roots this year will focus on my love of painting and meditation — fusing both in new ways.  To commence, I have just posted a book trailer on Kizuna a fable I wrote & illustrated while I was in Japan.  It reminds me of my love for my country; one of my countries…
You are receiving it because you have touched me and Japan — given me hope in humanity.
Please view the short book trailer and pass it on to 3 others who have touched you after March 11th  — be it through small acts of kindness or large.  Do so on any day when you think someone needs a lift.

Press Like, Post it on Your Social Media or Make a Small Vow to Change Something in You for you and your Love of Yourself and of this World.

What matters is you do something small today.
It need not be large, something very small like me — painting or studying a few kanji a day.  Nothing grand, something very hard and small !
Why?   The small steps matter.  And done daily, these small steps do create change.
The soil, the ground work, the daily watering or the daily meditation, these are the things that no one notices or knows, but that bring fundamental change to ourselves.
And to our Nations.
The large steps are just the fruit of our actions.  Let us begin small to create something deep and beautiful together.
With joy and much to learn from each of you as we take small steps together in the same direction,


Re-inventing Ourselves Silently

Nations do not change, only individuals.   We are all called to be artists, creators of change within ourselves and around us.  To create something entirely new, to go beyond our best as individuals, we need to draw on our inner capabilities.

One such path is through meditation.  Meditation is not something we do, it is a state we enter when our body, mind and spirit are ready.  Certain meditative techniques or practices help make meditative states be experienced sooner than others.  As such it can not be taught, but only experienced by those willing and open to experiment on themselves and disciplined enough to create the right body, mind and spirit.

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There are many paths that lead to “meditation,” chose one that fits you and begin today.


Nirmal was trained in Raja yoga in Nepal as of age nine,  practiced Ayurveda as of eleven and is fluent in Japanese.  We recommend you meditating with him (on Tuesday at noon — check schedule in case it changed), or his private Ayurvedic Counseling or Pranyama class (Thursday nights) at Nirmal Yoga.  Contact Nirmal Gyawali Yoga Studio (Shirokanedai) to create a new group of meditators or to practice one on one or for for individual ayurvedic counseling.  Nirmal also has a teacher training course.


For those interested, we recommend Zen at Senkakuji Temple with Chudo Yamamoto (Japanese/English).  Many other temples in Japan have Za-zen, you need to call and find out when it is available to the public.  Most in Japanese!  Zen is a full life-style that includes the way you walk, sleep, eat, so if you think by sitting one or two hours a day will be enough for a full transformation, you need to re-think your whole lifestyle.


YOGA TREE (Hiroo, Japan).  We recommend for hatha yoga Michael Glenn’s studio (English/Japanese) at Yoga Tree in Hiroo, Tokyo.  There is something about Michael’s intensity and focus that makes practicing there an incredible experience that harmonizes the body, mind and spirit.  The Japanese teachers are excellent too.

YOGA in SYNC (Outram Park, Singapore).   For those in Singapore, we recommend hatha yoga with Vikram at Yoga in Sync (hard to find a yogi who knows the body better).  For advanced students, health challenges and athletes, we recommend his private sessions.

NIKAM YOGA.  For cleansing techniques that prepare the body for meditation we recommend doing yoga with Nikam Yoga. Nikam Yoga includes pranyama and is free of charge, but only available in certain countries like India and Singapore where former students become teachers devoting their time and expertise freely.  It is a course, with each class building on the other and regular practice, so committed members only.


We recommend Qigong with Shu Seika (Chinese/Japanese) Friday mornings at 8am in Arisugawa park (near the statue on the side of Library) Hiroo.  Mr. Zhou or Shu Seika began his training at age 9 and has helped people with cancer and other illnesses in Japan for many years.  He has given workshops that rejuvenate health at the cellular level and treats individuals.  Speaks Japanese and Chinese fluently. Tel: 0363289606.

YOGA (From Comfort of your Home with most Effective Yogic Techniques)

For those who do not have an individual teacher, who wish to learn at their own pace or from the comfort of their own home, we recommend the effective techniques of Sadhguru, an Indian yogi.  The best place to begin is his online Isha Kriya or his on-line Inner Engineering Course (download his app).  Sadhguru gives more advanced trainings in countries where there are enough volunteers to assist follow up trainings.  The US, India, Singapore, Malaysia, UK are amongst a few.  Then perhaps to India!

For those with limited time but desiring effective techniques–this is it.  Naturally as this yogi is Indian, in the West one must be open to that which we do not know (not the best trait of the French nor the Japanese according to a Franco-Japanese!).

Sadhguru is a yogi full of joy, he is profound, his technique combines all forms of yoga even if he himself is probably a kriya yogi.   He has talked at the UN, taught the Kennedy brothers, spoken at MIT, Harvard, Yale, trained CEOs and does whatever is needed to bring a small element of spirituality to this world.  You may not understand everything he does (nor do I), but his techniques I have tested.  They work!

Download Sadhguru App (itunes Version) or search for the one adopted for your phone.  For simple 5 minute practices select Yoga on the app and press “Yoga Tools” Learn Now. Apps available on isha website.

For those who wish to do a short 15 minute meditation try  ishakriya meditation on the app.  Do it daily for 90 days or 2x a day for 48 days for maxium benefit without missing a day.  It works..

For those with health issues download the health meditation chit shakti meditation online or use the app.  There is also a meditation on love, success and peace.


BRUSSELS, BELGIUM there is a Tibetain Buddhism center in Saint Gilles called Kagyu Samye Dzong, located at 33 rue Capouillet who follow the Karmapa line of Buddhism which is in line with the Dalai Lama.  I walked in one weekend to do my first seated 20 and 40 minute meditation with a formidable meditator and Lama named Yeshe who has meditated in seclusion for many years in the forest and also more than once for 25 or so days in a dark enclosed box (most humans go crazy after a few days).

I later returned once again to the center to learn briefly from and meet his elder brother who was a great lama and doctor, named Akong Rinpoche.   Both brothers started the first Tibetain monestery in Europe in Scotland.  Lama Rinchen Palmo, a French lama at the center also kindly helped me to contact a Zen master as I was leaving for Japan to work with the Japanese.  Ken Holmes and his wife Katia are a formidable team of scholars who I met there and give an 3 year on-line course on Tibetan Buddhism that is impossible to find elsewhere.  I could only complete two due to my schedule, but recommend it highly.

The Kagyu line also have a  monestery in the Catskills, New York which I discovered when a monk I met in the train back from NYC wished to bring me there!  Although a novice myself on Tibetain Buddhism, all the people I met at this center were inspiring.


Christianity has its own set of practices that are meditative in nature and a tradition of silence.  The monastery of the sisters of Bethlehem in the Catskill Mountains (Livingston manor), two and a half hours from New York City,  is home to this silence, to great love and to the joy of solitude.  This is a sacred place and Sr. Amena, the head of the monastery, and the nuns who practice there have a beautiful presence which make each moment spent there sacred.


I had the good fortune of going there once a year for the last few years and staying in a wood cabin for a few days of silence in the forest.  It was divine and the small chapel with the chants of the sisters early in the morning lift one’s prayers and meditation.

See if you can book a place Livingston Manor for a silent retreat, contribute for your stay a donation to the sisters (as they live on what they earn with their art) and return re-invigorated.  Each sister here is special, each one wants to remain nameless.   Each one feels like my sister.  Each one has prayed for our family countless times.

Silence is rare these days.  And yet, Jesus went into the desert to meditate.  There is in Christianity a tradition handed down by mystics and later by the Carmelite tradition exemplified by Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux and Thomas Merton amongst others for silence.  One of the techniques used, centering prayer, is much like the techniques I have found in the other traditions above.  It is contemplative prayer and it has been renewed with Father Thomas Keating’s work at St. Benedict’s Monastery.


Learn to enter deeper states of relaxation, strengthen your meditation practice, experience the art of well-being or discover a new level of being far beyond a previous best, as you transform yourself and us with your creations and your life.

With gratitude and joy to all artists, all creators,
Nathalie Ishizuka

A blog to go Beyond our Best in body, mind and spirit

Climate Change, Innovation and Architects: 2020 Olympics

Beyond Our Best: Creators Uplifting Japan Collective Ideas

Can the 2020 Olympics be an Occasion to Better Protect Japanese Citizens and Tokyo from Climate Change (Water Suge, Typhoons, Rising Water Levels in Asia) and Natural Disasters?


Idea Stage Proposal

Problem: According to a May 2013 Asian Development bank report on climate change, rising water levels in Asia including Japan will create important problems for farmers and others in the next 40 years calling for the re-enforcement of ports and large adaptation costs. On March 17, 2014 the Japanese Environment Ministry also estimated that in the next 100 years Japan may lose as much as 85% of its beaches and triple the cost of flooding damage.

Tsunamis, typhoons and rising water levels call the Japanese and others in the world to innovate on new structures that can better protect its citizens, farmers and its coast. Climate adaptation cannot wait for a gridlocked climate mitigation agreements that have sustainable development goals for all nations.

Opportunity: In 2020, the same year that the Kyoto protocol has been extended through, the Japanese will host the Olympics in Tokyo Bay area. Can the Japanese use the Olympics as an opportunity to propose and possibly demonstrate new innovative structures to better protect Tokyo Bay and Japanese citizens from future storm surges, typhoons, tsunamis and rising water levels as well as inspire the world to follow or emulate?

Our focus is not the Olympics, but innovation on structures and ideas that can save lives and be used in Japan and elsewhere. We hope to help imagine new ways to stop, slow down or deviate water surge and waves other than the simple rock structures currently used on coastlines of Japan which have proven inadequate and are a blight to the coastal view.

Let us Imagine:

  • How could we stop, slow down, deter or better predict and measure waves or stop rising water levels in a manner that could save lives in Tokyo Bay and elsewhere?
  • Could sensors in a certain pattern resembling 5 Olympic rings in Tokyo Bay be useful for monitoring waves?
  • Could a structure stopping waves in the future be see through or clear and not obstruct the coastal view?
  • Could another wave be created in the opposite direction to alter a tsunami’s course or a typhoon’s force to slow waves down?
  • Could astronomers and NASA imagine with architects « interceptors » to deflect or alter the course of a tsunami ? Could some of the things that are imagined to stop or alter a meteor work on a wave or a surge?
  • Could a better understanding of coral reefs, objects floating on the ocean or forests absorb energy of tsunamis or lessen the force of waves from a typhoon? Could some of these structures (placed in the water) provide energy when waves are not a threat?
  • Could we create golf courses or pastures in low-lying coastal areas (when villages have agreed to move to higher grounds) that are landscaped in a manner that re-directs water away from highly populated areas and provide more time for evacuation?
  • Could Japanese farmland along the coast be landscaped to slow down the force of a tsunami and save lives while encouraging larger plots and competitive crops?

We believe that Japanese artists (architects and others) can work together to elevate, inspire, build and test new structures for Tokyo Bay that better protect Japanese citizens in Tokyo and elsewhere from climate change, all in time for some inaugurations before 2020.

During this process we hope to create more environmentally friendly Olympic games that contribute to the welfare of local citizens far after the games are over.

To do so we must be flexible, we must work with the Olympics and with scientists, governments, farmers and countless others to imagine innovations that can save lives and facilitate recovery. We must realize that some will work and others not. We must begin together now.

Architects and Climate Change, Crisis and Innovation

We appeal to Japanese architects to use their imagination to design new ways to combat environmental threats. We envision an interdisciplinary environment where architects exchange ideas with physicists, mathematicians, engineers and astronomers to think in revolutionary new ways.

We believe that the combination of Japanese architectural ingenuity and ideas from different fields of science would yield ingenious new solutions not only for protecting against tsunamis, but also for addressing rising water levels, earthquakes and other related environmental threats. In the future, we see the type of forum we develop becoming international and some programs even being implemented under the auspices of the United Nations.

If sufficient interest is shown, we will find a way to organize informal gatherings of architects and other interested persons to jumpstart this program.

Please contact us to get involved.  We need to work with the team making decisions for the Olympic Games, with Architects, Farmers, Astronomers, Landscape Engineers, Golf Course Architects and other Scientists. Together.

Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka

Director, Beyond Our Best : Creators Uplifting Japan



UN and Resilient Design
Asian Development Bank Report in Asia (and Japan) on Climate Change Challenges

The Rockefeller Foundation Grant to Resilient Cities

Challenge for Architects and Scientists: 

Innovative Japanese Landscape Architects Explore Alternative Solutions to Seawalls

Nuclear Power Plants at Risk from Tsunamis Around the World

Earthquake structures

Tsunami Proof House

Kobe Begins Research

Suggested Studies to Explore


Coastal Engineering Journal, Vol. 54, No. 1 (2012) 1250011 (26 pages)
⃝c World Scientific Publishing Company and Japan Society of Civil Engineers DOI: 10.1142/S0578563412500118





Letter to Japanese Friends on March 11th

Japanese Version of Letter Below (scroll down)
French Version of Letter Below (scroll down)

Emerging Above Natural and Man-Made Crisis

A letter to Japanese friends contains a poetic vision of how artists, citizens and decision makers could together define a new Japan.

Today is the third anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.  Let us move forward together. Fukushima could one day be a name associated not with disaster, but a springboard for national and international change.  Everything is still possible.

Please circulate this Letter to Japanese Friends, discuss it, click “like” to encourage Japan.  Join us to work with other artists and citizens who inspire.  Link to Beyond Our Best: Creators Uplifting Japan so we can work creatively together.

This letter has been published in 2012 both in English and Japanese by the chief editor of Sogensha in Osaka Japan in 日本語臨床フォーラム, a web journal dealing with psychology psychotherapy and art.  It has also been since re-published in Belgium in 2013 in the philosophy and theology journal Acta Comparanda XXIV, FVG, Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions, pp. 137-138, 2610 Antwerpen Belgium.

For other venues interested in publishing it, please Contact Us.


—– English

A Letter to Japanese Friends

Leiko Ishizuka, MBA, MALD, Keio University exchange, a Franco-Japanese from New York

Paul Briot, Ph.D. in Philosophy, Professor at the Antwerp Faculty of Comparative Religion


understanding, heart of sun,


Nations, just like individuals, often ask crucial questions in times of crisis.  It is only when things become really difficult that we have the courage to consider transformational change.  After the 2011 tragedy, Japan set about recovering with a dignity and courage that moved the world.  Just as in 1945, the Japanese will recover and rebuild.  The question is: can a new Japan emerge?

Some Japanese realize that in the face of increasing natural and man-made disasters, the country has to equip itself with a new moral drive that enlightens and inspires.  To rebuild an old Japan in the current international context is not enough.  To write a glorious page of its history, Japan will need to emerge from this crisis far beyond its previous best.

Let us imagine how Japan can conceive and bring about a sublime nobility, a beauty capable of projecting its inhabitants beyond what they ever were, even at the height of their culture and past.

Japan needs This, a moral drive rich in comprehension and compassion.  The country requires an enlightened spirit of fraternity, open to all those in the world who in this period of adversity have shown their sympathy and respect for Japan’s courage, dignity and solidarity.

In order to mold a new heart for themselves, a heart of sun, one that ignites the sparks that live within them, the Japanese launch into the sky the arrows of their imagination.  In a country that experiences a tremendous range of human emotions and feelings, poets suggest a Japanese This, an element of value and meaning that resides in the very spirit of the Japanese people.

Painters, sculptors, architects and all artists envision faces that gradually rise towards This, a moral sun that is stronger and undoubtedly nobler than unbridled nature.

Intellectuals, historians, writers, journalists, major broadcasters evoke the past.  Throughout its history Japan has been influenced at times by China at times by the West.  But today those lands are also in search of meaning, of their own existential journey.  Fortunately, Japan itself can devise its own audacious future.

The spiritual, the wise and those who meditate propose their experience.  This will signify according to each individual: spiritual faith, moral force or beauty.  These three aspects are indeed compatible.  Imagining meanings, choosing one’s own specificity, committing oneself to the essential Adventure.

Individual citizens ask important questions of themselves and of their country.  They move, they engage, they act to rebuild Japan from within.

Finally an appeal is launched, a solemn appeal to those in charge, including leaders and decision-makers, to contribute to a new Japan.

The Japanese envisage the sun in full freedom, as their inspiration dictates.  They question it in all possible ways.  They imagine poetically its responses, its enigmas, its allusions.  Meaning starts to live, it deepens, it spreads freely.  Value blossoms, sparkles, becomes light, a measureless light that sublimates all things.

The Japanese are capable of This and the world context requires nothing less: comprehension, compassion, liberation, realization.


understanding, heart of sun,



—– Japanese



Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka(ナタリー 玲子 石塚) パリHECでMBA、慶応大学に留学、「ベストを超えて:日本を元気にするクリエーター達」ディレクター

Paul Briot(ポール・ブリオ) 哲学博士、アントワープ比較宗教学講座教授




個人と同様に、国家も、危機に直面すると重要な問いを発するものです。本当に困難な状況に陥ったときに初めて、根本的な変化へと踏み出そうとする勇 気が出 てきます。2011年3月の悲劇的な災害から、日本は尊厳と勇気を持って復興への道を歩みだし、世界を感動させました。第二次世界大戦から復興したときと 同じように、日本はまた復興と再建を成し遂げることでしょう。問題は、「日本は新しく生まれ変われるのだろうか?」ということです。

自然 と人為、二種類の災害の頻度がますます高まっている昨今、日本人の中にも、道を照らし、人々を勇気づけるような新しい精神力を身につける必要があることに 気付きはじめた人々がいます。現代の国際情勢においては、以前と同じ日本をもう一度再建するだけでは十分ではありません。日本がこの苦難の時を乗り越えた とき、これまでの日本をはるかに上回る素晴らしい国として生まれ変わった姿を示すことができれば、その歴史に輝かしい1ページを書き加えることができるで しょう。



日本の人々は、新しい心、すなわち内なる輝きに火をともす太陽の心をかたち作っていくために、想像力の矢を空高く放ちます。詩人たちは、数えきれな いほど さまざまな感情や思いを今まさに経験しているこの国において、日本人本来の精神性の中にもともと備わっているこの価値観、この意味を訴えかけます。


知識人、歴史家、作家、ジャーナリスト、ニュースキャスターなどは、過去の歴史を呼び起こさせます。日本はその歴史上、中国から、そしてまた西洋か らも影 響を受け続けてきました。しかし今日では、それらの国々もまた意味を求め、自らの存在を問い直す旅のなかにあります。幸いなことに日本は今、自分たちの未 来を自らの手で大胆につくり出していくことができるのです。

宗教家や賢人、瞑想家たちは、自らの経験を言葉にして伝えます。信仰、精神 力、そして美――これが日本人ひとりひとりにとって重要な意味を持ちます。これら3つは共存可能です。意味を想像すること、自分だけの特質を自ら選び取る こと、そして意義深い「冒険」へと踏み出していくこと。



霊感の指し示すところにしたがって、日本人はその心の中に自由に太陽を描き出します。日本人は可能な限りのあらゆる方法で太陽に問いを投げかけま す。太陽 が返す答え、太陽がかける謎、太陽が暗示するものを、日本人は詩的に想像します。意味が命を得て、深まり、そして自由に広がっていきます。価値は花開き、 輝き、光となります。それは、すべての存在を至高の高みへと導く、計り知れない光です。

理解、思いやり、解放 ――日本人にはこれらを成し遂げる力があります。そして、世界の状況も今それを求めているのです。






ポール・ブリオは哲学博士、アントワープ(ベルギー)の比較宗教学講座教授。危機の活用、誠実さ、芸術的創造、目標の明確化などをテーマとした詩的随想や記事、著書を発表。近著(Le rayonnant…un art vers l’Infini…?  2004, Editions Caractères, Collections : Cahiers & Cahiers)では、すべてを超越し、人々を高みへと導く内なる芸術について論じている。

ナタリー 玲子 石塚

石 塚ナタリー玲子は慶応大学で日本語を学び、フレッチャー法律外交大学院でMALD(法律と外交に関する修士号、ハーバード大学との共同学位)を、パリの HECではMBAを取得。学位論文では1946年に制定された日本国憲法と国連平和維持活動について論じ、憲法起草者の一人から称賛の手紙が贈られた。危 機を国家や個人を変革するためのチャンスとして捉えることをテーマに執筆活動を行っており、「日本の友人への手紙」に、日本の昔話「鶴の恩返し」を重ね合 せた寓話「きずな(KIZUNA)」を発表している。





 —– French


Leiko Ishizuka, M.B.A. HEC, M.A.L.D. Fletcher School, a Franco-Japanese from New York

Paul Briot, Docteur en philosophie, Professeur à la Faculté des religions comparées d’Anvers


comprendre, cœur de soleil,


En 1945, les Japonais ont réparé les dommages de la guerre et développé une économie particulièrement brillante.  Après le drame de 2011, ils se redressent une fois encore avec une dignité et un courage qui touchent le monde entier.  Mais certains Japonais comprennent que, face à des désastres naturels et d’autres créés par l’homme, le pays doit se doter maintenant d’une force morale qui éclaire l’existence et l’inspire.  De cette crise actuelle le Japon peut écrire une page glorieuse de son histoire.

Imaginons comment le pays conçoit et réalise une noblesse, une beauté qui projette ses habitants au delà de ce qu’ils étaient avant cette épreuve terrible.

Il faut au Japon Ceci, une force morale riche de compréhension et de compassion.  Il faut au pays un esprit  éclairé, fraternel, ouvert à tous ses amis du monde qui, dans cette épreuve, ont manifesté au pays sympathie et respect pour son courage, sa dignité, l’aide que chacun a apportée aux autres.

Pour se forger un nouveau cœur, un cœur de soleil, pour faire jaillir ces étincelles qui déjà vivent en eux, les Japonais lancent vers les hauts les flèches de leur imagination. Dans ce pays qui a reconnu l’immense gamme des émotions et des sentiments humains, les poètes suggèrent ce quelque chose qui vaut, ce quelque chose lourd de sens qui réside dans l’esprit même du peuple.

Peintres, sculpteurs, architectes, tous les artistes imaginent des visages qui peu à peu s’élèvent vers Ceci, soleil moral plus fort en fin de compte, plus noble assurément que la nature déchaînée.

Compositeurs et chorégraphes évoquent une sagesse où volonté et courage s’unissent à l’amour.

Penseurs, historiens, écrivains, journalistes, grands diffuseurs évoquent le passé.  Au cours de son histoire, le Japon fut influencé tantôt par la Chine, tantôt par l’Occident.  Mais aujourd’hui ces lieux se trouvent eux aussi à la recherche d’un sens, d’une formule d’existence.  Par bonheur, le Japon lui-même peut concevoir des plans d’audace, un Ceci japonais.

Les spirituels, les sages, ceux qui méditent proposent leur expérience.  Ceci signifiera selon chacun destinée spirituelle, force morale ou encore beauté, ces trois aspects étant, bien entendu, compatibles.  Imaginer des sens, choisir un sens particulier, s’engager dans l’Aventure essentielle.

Enfin un appel est lancé, un appel solennel qui s’adresse aux responsables, aux dirigeants, aux décideurs pour apporter leur aide à un nouveau Japon.

Les Japonais considèrent le soleil librement, selon leur inspiration.  Ils le questionnent de toutes les manières. Ils imaginent poétiquement ses réponses, ses énigmes, ses allusions.  Du sens se met à vivre, il se creuse, s’étend librement.  La valeur s’épanouit, lance des feux, devient lumière, lumière immense qui sublime toutes choses.



comprendre, cœur de soleil,


Looking Back 2013 and Forward 2014

January 31, 2014

Dear Friends and Supporters of Beyond Our Best :  Creators Uplifting Japan

Happy New Year 2014 and thank you for your creativity, service, kindness and support to creators in Japan in 2013.

Nothing could be done without your friendship, ideas, input, introductions, creativity, generosity and great spirit.  As we are all creators, Beyond Our Best: Creators Uplifting Japan simply facilitates the work of many who inspire.

This year we worked on meaning: what it means for creators to uplift Japan.  As I tend to think in images and my Japanese is poor, this has been no easy task.

Dr. Paul BriotDr. Paul Briot, a Belgian philosopher Ph.D. and Professor of Comparative Religion, and I work together on using natural and man-made crisis for change.   Together we wrote a poetic Letter to Japanese Friends translated and published it thanks to Dr. Masayoshi Morioka in Japan in 2012 and later in a journal in Belgium in 2013.  A new translated version now exists thanks to Peter Macmillan.

KIZUNA FABLE :  Knowledge and Comprehension in 2014

kizunaTo help convey the Letter to Japanese Friends to the general public, I re-wrote and illustrated the letter in 2014 into the adapted fable The Japanese Crane Wife (鶴の恩返し). The fable was translated in Japanese just in time for it to be produced as a dance on January 6th 2014 by a talented Japanese Nihon Buyo artist in front of some of her peers.

IMG_0444 Wakayagi Masayasu Sensei, who performed the dance, is from one of the 5 most well known families of dance in Japan.

She believes others could interpret the story in opera, movie, manga, music or other forms of art and in the future aspires to create and perform the dance in Tohoku (the region devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear).

Should other artists wish to have a copy of KIZUNA and interpret the story in an original manner please contact us.

We welcome publishing contacts for the illustrated Japanese fable.

2014 and Beyond :  Lectures, Workshops and Guests

Due to high demand we welcome again in 2014 two inter-disciplinary guests who have helped artists and leaders in different disciplines balance high levels of self, intimacy and achievement: Dr. Yukio Ishizuka, a Japanese Harvard-Keio trained psychiatrist, who developed a model of health, happiness and balance and Frederic Bosendorf, D.O., osteopath, physiotherapist and practitioner of Chinese medicine.  Let us know if you would like to book Dr. Yukio Ishizuka on a talk for happiness, health and creativity or for an appointment for Frederic.

Dr. Yukio Ishizuka Dates Japan:  April 22 – May 14th 2014

Frederic Bosendorf, D.O. Dates Japan: Early June

Many thanks to all of you and in particular to Dr. Paul Briot who inspired me to come to Japan to work with Japanese artists and who has been working with me throughout.

Let this be a year of greater knowledge, compassion, freedom and realization.

With much to learn from each of you,

Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka


Aside from working with individual artists on using knowledge or compassion in Tohoku and Japan at large, in 2014 some collective propositions include:

2014 and Beyond: Architects and Climate Change, Crisis and Innovation

In 2014 and beyond we wish to imagine together with interested Japanese architects and inter-disciplinary scientists and experts innovative new structures that better resist environmental challenges such as tsunamis, earthquakes, rising levels of the sea and climate change.  We will be organizing informal gatherings to jump start this program.  Please contact us to get involved.

2014 and Beyond: Japanese Youth, Artists & Social Movement

In 2014 and beyond we wish to develop a compassion application on the mobile to engage the Japanese youth and others to reduce suicides and show the power of compassion in Japan and abroad.  This would be building on the central message of KIZUNA, the bonds between people, to show how through simple actions we can create bonds of compassion in Japan and extend them in Asia without any political messages attached.

2014 and Beyond:  Innovative and Resourceful Children

There are 30,000 children in orphanages in Japan, most have at least one parent.  We hope to work with one orphanage, the Seibi Home and with innovative social workers develop and test pilot programs which can if successful be used in other orphanages and in education at large.  We are thinking of developing a series of three advanced workshops one after the other :  1) survival skills  2) emotional/life skills  3) crisis and creativity skills and welcome experts, sponsors and support .

What we realize of course depends on the talents, interests and opportunities of individuals in a position to initiate, support and create change.  


WE THANK many countless individuals in 2013 who are the important bonds amongst us who make things happen.

Our activities were numerous in 2013 including contacts with individuals who do great things for orphanages and prisoners, farmers throughout Japan and nuclear safety.  Throughout all of our activities we strove to re-imagine with experts in each sector, using crisis and setbacks to create together.

Each individual who is thanked is not responsible for the views of others nor does he or she agree on different societal challenges nor is necessarily part of any organization with a common purpose.  And yet, each mentioned stirred our imagination to greater knowledge or compassion.

We wish to thank countless artists, creative individuals and volunteers who have each inspired us,  including:


toyoitoSpecial thanks to the architect Toyo Ito, who received the Pritzer Prize in architecture in 2013 and continues to use his understanding of “間” or space to conceive architecture as a skin — a space that opens a door for long forgotten relationships amongst people.

We thank the talented Mr. Kobayashi, his chief architect as well as Ms. Miki Uono who coordinated with countless mails meaningful exchanges. We thank too Ronald Choi, a remarkable investment banker from JP Morgan, who is raising funds for Toyo Ito’s Fukushima park for children as well as Hiroko Kano, Yoko Amau, and Shingo Oshima for their volunteer translations for our meetings.  We thank Naomi Pollock for her advice on architects in Japan.  We thank Roland Hagenberg for his inspirational presentation at the Austrian Embassy on a farm village in Europe revived by Japanese architects and hope the Japanese can do something similar in Tohoku.  We thank the professor and scientist Sahraoui Chaieb who we first met at MIT and helped us with holograms and implications for new structures in architecture.

JA-ZENCHU (Agricultural LOBBY)

We thank from JA-ZENCHU Kato Jun and Oota Yousuke for brainstorming on how to revive Japanese farming beyond a previous best and how artists may contribute to reviving spirits in Tohoku.  We look forward to future work together facilitating the work of architects and other artists in Japan to lift the spirits of farmers.  This could include imagining ways with architects to better protect coastal areas against tsunamis or rising water levels or helping to revive a village with architects and designers.


NaotoWe thank Naoto Nakagawa who completed his 1,000 portraits of hope sketches of people from Tohoku, bringing good luck and inspiration to all.  I thank Naoto for taking me to Fukushima with his friend Robin Rabin.

I learned much from the generosity of the people of Fukushima particularly Masako Koyano and Mr. and Mrs. Yamaguchi whose Taxi service drove us to Aizuwakamatsu and got us around Koriyama city as well as meeting children from the Okuma Kindergarten, teens from Japan’s number one youth badminton team (who once practiced near the Dai-itchi nuclear plant) and elders from the temporary housing unit.  We also thank Caroline Press for helping to make such beautiful work possible.

We thank too TIS for inspiring us with their work with Ishinomaki and Kesenuma and for their work with the Playground of Hope and It’s not Just Mudd.  We thank particularly Bita Alu and Tracey Odea.  We thank Gaetano Totaro and Michael Anop for what they have done for Tohoku.

We thank the Google team including Reirui Ri, Charlie Hale and William Echickson for all they have done for Tohoku and Marie Onga for brainstorming with us on further projects with artists.


We thank Wakayagi Sensei in Nihon Buyo for her support and interpretation of the fable KIZUNA in a dance in front of a few of her peers.  Many people were involved in this creation and its development was a great adventure that began with many friendships starting with Mrs. Reiko Nagura who introduced me to her talented teacher Wakayagi Sensei and offered me a Kimono and Obi.

dorothybouchierSaraHitchensMrs. Sara Hitchens, a talented counselor in health and psychology, helped in more ways than one including kindly introducing me to the poet and composer Lady Bouchier author of The Japanese Crane: Bird of Happiness and the poet and artist Peter Macmillan who was instrumental in helping the fable KIZUNA be translated in Japanese just in time for it to be produced as a dance on January 6th 2014.

We thank Lady Bouchier who solved a year long puzzle on Hokusai‘s Cranes which lead all the way to Kushiro in Hokkaido…and to the talented photographer of cranes Tsuneo Hayashida.

We thank warmly Kimete Basha for recent help with publishing contacts.


kenzaburo and satoshi kamataWe thank Satoshi Kamata, a Japanese journalist who has written over 200 books for his courageous work in many fields including social causes and the Fukushima disaster.  I first met Mr. Kamata in Paris when he came with Kenzaburo Oe.

We thank too Mark Willacy’s (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation News) informative book FUKUSHIMA as it pointed out important human error.  We also thank many NHK journalists and others whom we met or corresponded with in 2013 who do great work on many societal issues including on the important work of artists, happiness and social change.  We leave out your names as you get enough press ;).


We thank our two specialists who came from New York and Brussels who work with Japanese artists and others on health and happiness on going beyond our best, Dr. Yukio Ishizuka and Frederic Bosendorf.

Yukio IshizukaDr. Yukio Ishizuka a Japanese Harvard trained psychiatrist and Keio medical school graduate gave countless lectures including at the British Embassy, the EU embassy, Keio University, Lutheran University and individual groups such as that headed by my gifted friend Rosanna Kubotera, as well as Yoko Amau and Yasuko Amau who we all thank for countless introductions.

We thank Frederic Bosendorf who helped many individuals who had intense workloads and who do much for others.  We thank Ingrid Davis for providing Frederic Bosendorf with an osteopathic table and Mrs. Eri Ogawa for teaching both Frederic an I about Seitai.  We thank Colette Ishizuka who supported Dr. Ishizuka’s schedule and allowed me to work during the summer.


We thank former Ambassador and Mrs. Petree and Ambassador and Mrs. Terusuke Terada for helping our transition to Japan as well as Kenji Kuratomi of the Embassy of Japan in Belgium.

We thank the EU Embassy Ambassador and Mrs. Schweisgut, Rudie Filon on hosting a talk at the EU on Suicide Prevention Best Practices : EUROPE, JAPAN, US in 2013, as well as on Happiness and we congratulate the movie and work of Rene Duignan on Suicide Prevention in Japan, we thank the British Embassy for sponsoring a talk on Happiness including Ambassador and Mrs. Hitchens.

We thank Marie-Claire Joyce for her talent, creativity and friendship which lifts us.  We thank the Austrian Embassy particularly Ambassador and Mrs. Zimberg for work with the Seibi orphanage as well as inviting us to talks by artists.

We thank Embassies working to facilitate visits to foreign prisoners in Japan with the FCC under Frances Moyer’s beautiful efforts, Ambassadors who have offered to host art exhibits and Ambassadors who have aspirations to do work on climate change with artists.  We look forward to future work together as Japan works with many other countries for needed change.


We thank the Seibi orphanage and its staff, particularly Kudo Yoshi.  We thank the Austrian Ambassador and his wife Rashmi Zimburg for bringing song to children for the Christmas holidays, Peter Storer from the Austrian Embassy for making the event possible, the talented designer and psychologist Andrea Strohmeier for her friendship and interesting insights on many topics.

We thank Stephanie Johnson head of FCC orphanages, Patrick Newell, head of Living Dreams an NPO that helps orphanages, Maki-Mori, an American trained Japanese social worker and Zoe Davis-Rizutto for her support.  We thank Shinobu Yoshida for his work on survival workshops that we are developing for orphanages.  We welcome and seek new social workers including those who can speak Japanese and thank Shikibu Oishi for contacts including with Maurice Rabb and his work with children in difficulty.  We thank Adele Marcis and FIFA’s donation for Jacky’s Japanese team soccer shirt : a wish made true for an orphan bound for the soccer field!

We thank from BST Brian Christian, Kirsten O’Connor and Ben Stainer for setting up a community service with the Seibi Home Orphanage.


We thank our many professional writers who have worked for some of the best ad agencies or created their own and volunteered their time especially Michael Glen of CREATIVE ( for his critical help defining the name of our organization, our core activities succinctly, translating those into Japanese, editing a proposal on a mobile application, editing a proposal on architects and climate change and creative insight on many matters.  Michael you are a great teacher, a formidable writer and generous friend.

We warmly thank Rosanna Kubodera and Yoshi Kubodera from CONNECT Inc. for helping us define our name in Japanese and for creative insights on our meishi.

We thank Emine Karali, a talented designer in Belgium for working late into the nights on the print design of the book KIZUNA.

We thank Nori Katano for his advice and knowledge of the internet, mobile and web.  We also thank Sarah Breen for her high tech advice and ideas.

We thank Peter Macmillan’s translation services who gave us a generous discount and provided us with his most talented translator so that the book KIZUNA could be danced by Wakayagi Sensei on January 6th 2014.  Peter’s excellent translation services also just did exceptional work on a Letter to Japanese Friends which we hope to publish at the same time as the book KIZUNA.

We highly recommend their services to others and thank them for their generous time, talent, ideas and support. 


We thank all our volunteer translators especially Hiroko Kano and Makiko Sephardi who helped us on many of our undertakings including tight deadlines, phone calls and many aspects of our daily work.   Much of our work could not have been possible without them.  We admire all our expert as well as youth translators.   Special thanks to Yoko Amau, Hiroko Sasaki, Shingo Oshima, Satomi Kanaya, Akemi Shuto for volunteer translations in meetings with artists and people who inspire.


We thank Dr. Oliver Williamson from Berkeley, Dr. Joel Trachtman from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Dr. Ray Moore from Amherst College, Dr. Donald Robinson from Smith College, Dr. James Sutterlin, former Director of the Executive Office of the U.N. Secretary General, Dr. Mikako Le Lay, Senior Fellow at Industry Research on Environment and Energy at Ernst & Young Institute and Dr. Masayoshi Morioka from Kobe University.


We thank our initial team in Japan which included the help of Michiko Nakazawa, Hiroyuki Akahori, Dr. Mikako Le Lay, Caroline Giraud, the poet Isabelle Balot, Osaka Wataru, Shinji Ioka and Frederic Donck.  We are happy to welcome Hiroyuki and Mikako to Tokyo !   We thank Guillaume Brouard and Olivier Kahwati from France for their high tech wisdom.  We thank Barbara De Frondeville and Bertrand De Frondeville for their work on many projects, including climate change.


We thank countless artists such as Keiko Courdy for inspiring us with her web documentary on Fukushima, the talented designer and artist Mai Miyake for her interesting work and expositions, Suiko Ohta for her demonstration of Sumie and many artist friends, including Mimi Oka, who introduced us to people in Japan and made our initial stay a happy one.  We thank Mr. and Mrs. Arikawa as well as Miyuki Arikawa.

We especially thank Mrs. Reiko Nagura who taught me much about traditional arts in Japan, intrigued me with in depth conversations on Jung and was one of the first to introduce us to artists including Wakayagi Sensei in Nihon Buyo and her cousin Yoko Ono amongst others. 

I thank my friend Carol Randell who drove my children to school and my friend Melanie Borisoff, my helper and friend Sally Reyes and especially my husband Bruno and children Dimitri and Leiko for their patience with a mother who often does too little and too much.

I am sure I have forgotten vital friends but as it is the last day I can send you a happy New Year card in January — you will forgive me and I will thank you in person.

I am grateful for such friends and moved at all you have done.  Much good has come from your work, generosity and creativity.

Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka

Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka, a Franco-Japanese from New York,  sees hope for Japan

Born of a French mother and Japanese father but raised in New York, Nathalie Leiko Ishizuka is of three cultures.  Today, due to the Japanese crisis, she desires to return to Japan and be with the Japanese people.  She, her husband, and her two young children (5 and 7) are hoping to make that possible as of September 2012.

Seishin Joshi Gakuin: A traditional Japan

At age 16, Nathalie enrolled as the first high school student from the United States to attend the all-Japanese traditional girl school, Seishin Joshi Gakuin.  There in the most traditional of Japanese schools, Leiko was initiated to the Japanese language, Japanese mythology, and Japanese brush painting during a four month exchange.

Mitsubishi Communications:  A Peek at Office Life

A following short summer internship at Mitsubishi Communications, gave her a peek into Japanese office life.  Like the Belgian author Amelie Nothomb in Stupeur and Tremblements Nathalie Ishizuka served tea in the morning, arrived early, and spent much of her day asking how she might be of use.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution :  Original Research

At age 22,  Nathalie Ishizuka wrote a 240 page Summa Cum Laude thesis at Amherst College on Article 9 of the 1946 Japanese Constitution.  She received the Doshisha Asian Studies Award and written praise from Colonel Charles Kades, one of the Constitution’s founding fathers.  Ishizuka was fortunate to benefit from Kades’ guidance as well as input from Professor Ray Moore, Professor Donald Robinson, Jim Sutherland, and Terusuke Terada.

Keio University: A Struggle with Language

Nathalie attended Keio for a six month exchange to better speak the language.

Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy: Psychology and International Affairs

While at the Fletcher School, Ishizuka wrote “Lessons from Preventive Health to Preventive Diplomacy,” winning an Eisaku Sato Memorial Essay Award.  Ishizuka was invited to the U.N. University in Tokyo.  During this time she also applied a hypothesis about how the affect fear influences economics and went to Berkeley for a year to work with Oliver Williamson (Nobel Laureate in Economics, 2009) to explore a paper she had presented at the Academy of Management.

Returning to Japan to be with the Japanese

Today at age 42, Nathalie Ishizuka wishes to return to Japan in a sign of solidarity with the Japanese people.  She hopes to work with writers, thinkers, artists, deciders and those who hold the Japanese traditions and spirit dear.

While Nathalie’s own father’s mentor, Dr. Taro Takemi, a long time President of the Japanese Medical Association, had once told her father, Dr. Yukio Ishizuka, “Not to return to Japan,” because the future was the West, Nathalie Ishizuka believes this is no longer true.  She and Dr. Paul Briot, a Belgian essayist, see great hope in Japan.

Nathalie Ishizuka

They will share their optimism with their Japanese friends in an article they wish to publish in Japanese print in the next few months.