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 (tokyometric@gmail.com) 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 Ishizuka

About the Author

Nathalie Ishizuka

Nathalie Ishizuka, a Franco-Japanese from New York, is Director of the Movement Beyond Our Best: Re-inventing Ourselves Silently. She is a meditation coach accompanying visionaries committed to changing themselves with tested techniques of meditation and one area of competence beyond a previous best.