Where I discovered a community of awesome individuals in 2010 and what I will make in 2011 – #Reverb10

In this post, I will reflect Prompt #7 of Reverb10 – if you are curious, check out Reverb10’s website here.

Prompt #7: Community

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

For me, the most powerful community I experienced this year was… Twitter. I joined Twitter few years ago, but I hadn’t used it actively until the end of 2009.

The most significant event that made me want to use Twitter more was to meet up with Gwen Bell (@gwenbell) in person when she visited Tokyo. Yes, that Gwen who co-organizes #Reverb10 (Hi Gwen!).

My Twitter usage became more active since then, and I’m happy to say that Twitter has been a very effective tool to find and to connect with like-minded people.

Let me mention some of the people I got connected with via Twitter this year and introduce their awesomeness to you.

  • Fernando (@HelloNavi) is a photographer extraordinaire, hailing from San Diego, currently based in Japan as an English teacher. He’s a great guy to talk with and I recommend you to take a look at his photos.
  • Rémi (@remino) is a French Canadian, web developing wizard. He has a great voice and I wonder when he will become a voice actor. If you need someone to do an extreme makeover on your website, say hello to him.
  • Sarah (@semisara) is one of the most energetic people I know. She is a journalist&photographer&translator with killer smiles and some kickboxing skills. Check out her website here.
  • Emi (@gyorome) is a fashion photographer&university student and I love the way she is. What fascinates me about her is how she can connect with people and do amazing things. There’s a lot to learn from her style.
  • Alice (@alicetokyo) is “an Italian heroine fighting monsters in Tokyo”. How awesome is that. Seriously, she’s awesome. She lives and studies at university in Tokyo, and writes blog posts for Vogue Japan. Her English website is here.
  • Etsuko (@EtsukoT) is specialized in coaching on international marriage as well as on parenting. We translated Chris Guillebeau’s “A Brief Guide to World Domination” into Japanese together. If you need some coaching on international marriage or parenting, talk to her!


Now, let me talk about the community I want to create in 2011.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you probably know that I want to make the world more romantic. In 2011, I will create a community of people who believe in their potentials and possibilities and seek beautiful moments in life. I’ve started writing a mini manifesto on this subject, and am planning to release it in the beginning of 2011. So, stay tuned if you are one of such people.

Your life is your art. My life is my art. Let’s create something amazing together.


If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: wwarby

Hans Comijn on becoming an attractive man

“Becoming an attractive man” is one of the topics I’ve been strongly interested in for the past few years. There are a few men I admire as a role model, and Hans Comijn is one of such rare men. Hans co-founded the Ars Amorata Online program with Zan Perrion and he led a number of men so they could get on the right path.  My friend from the Ars Amorata Online program, Paul Letendre did a series of interviews with Hans, and I highly recommend it, whether you are a man or a woman. In any case, if you happen to be a man who seeks more excellence in life, you must listen to it. If you liked Hans’ talk, share it with others, too. Also, Paul has written some excellent articles on his website Enrich Your Love Life – check them out!


<object width=”420″ height=”260″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/u5ZS_8cRhJg&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/u5ZS_8cRhJg&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” width=”420″ height=”260″></embed></object>

Photo: Ana_Cotta

Let’s make connections with yourself and others

Here’s my favorite part of The Connection Manifesto by Pace (@PaceSmith) and Kyeli (@Kyeli) Smith.

Before you know how to read or tie your shoes, you’re off to school. You spend 13 years, day in and day out, doing what others tell you to do, being shoved into boxes and molds. You get out of school, get a job, and spend the next fifty years, day in and day out, doing what others tell you to do, being shoved into boxes and molds. Eventually you retire, and then and only then can you enjoy life. When you’re 65.

Fuck that.

You can download The Connection Manifesto from here for free, and let your friends know about it if you like.

I read this manifesto recently, and it resonated with me. The Connection Manifesto introduces core ideas behind Pace and Kyeli’s world changing movement The Connection Revolution. I was moved by their manifesto, because they were honest and passionate about encouraging you to connect with yourself and others… about making this revolution happen.

Making connections with yourself and others. I believe this is very, very important. Making connections is a big theme in what I want to do as well – making the world more romantic. So, I was naturally interested in what Pace and Kyeli had to say about it.

It’s something people tend to miss or are afraid of doing when interacting with others. I don’t know if there is any single, unifying reason behind it, but I bet one of reasons why some people might be afraid of making connections with others is because they have to be authentic in front of others.

To be authentic, you can’t hide your vulnerability. You can’t impress others by putting on a mask. But if you can’t hide your vulnerability or impress others by putting on a mask, what’s going to happen? What if others judge you for who you really are?

Well, the answer is: nothing happens unless you make a big deal out of it. Trust me, you’ll be much more impressive when you show up as your authentic self.

But how do you make connections with others? In fact, what do you mean by ‘connections’ anyway? That’s a question I want to think over a little bit more… I can answer the first question though. Well, I’m not sure if people I interact with feel the same way, but I tend to ask them what their childhood dreams were and/or what their current dreams are. I’m more interested in these things than in how they make money (the typical ‘what do you do’ question, which I hardly ask), where they are from, and whether they have siblings or not. The trick is to be really curious about what their dreams are. I mean, aren’t you curious about such things more than those boring, average questions like the ‘what do you do’ question?

I can imagine some people getting frustrated about me calling this kind of questions boring, and I can understand that frustration. But let’s face it. It is boring. Imagine you could meet anyone you admire and ask one question. Would you really ask Andy Warhol (for example) how he earns money or where he’s from? You wouldn’t, would you? It’s totally fine if you would, but… Anyway. And don’t tell me the man sitting next to you might not be as interesting as Andy Warhol. He could be. In fact, assume he is as interesting as Andy Warhol (or whoever you think is interesting) and he will be.


Hi. What’s your dream?

Photo: ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser

Japan needs something more than English (Day 26)

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama states as follows in an interview for The Japan Times:

“In order to contribute to the world, Japanese must learn English. The reality is that the universal language is English. Due to the language problem, Japanese people can’t contribute enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect English! My English is broken but I can still communicate!”

I do agree that Japanese must learn English and be able to communicate with the world. I believe there’s more than the English language that Japanese people must learn, though. What they really need is to realize that there’s no divide between Japanese people and non-Japanese people: we’re all human beings after all. It seems to me that many Japanese people have been studying English without even realizing this simple fact. Languages are for communication, but generally speaking, many Japanese people seem to study English as though English is a ticket to a better position at work rather than a communication tool. What a boring goal. Seriously.

My impression is that the majority of Japanese people have no idea what non-Japanese people are like or that they have wrong ideas about them. I bet that most of the people who read my blog are expats in Japan and I’m sure you know much more about all these things than I do.

I imagine the following situations. One in which many Japanese people can speak English fairly well but they still don’t have the sense of international community. And the other in which many Japanese people still suck at English, but they’re more open to non-Japanese visitors and residents. Now of course it’s better if they could speak English and were open to non-Japanese people, let’s cross this option out for the sake of simplicity. And let’s have the same deal with the situation where Japanese people can’t speak English and they aren’t open to non-Japanese people… well, this one sounds a lot like the current situation. In any case, with those two situations, I would choose the latter. The reason behind this choice is simple. If there’s no intention to communicate with others, then being able to speak English … or any other language doesn’t mean anything. But, if you’re keen on communicating with others, then what language you speak doesn’t matter much. Body language and what not could fill in the gap.

Now, the question is: what can we do about it to make Japanese people more open towards the world outside of Japan? What can I do about it?

Do you listen to yourself?

In the past a few people told me that I am a good listener. But as you will read shortly, I may not be that good a listener, especially when the speaker is myself. In this post I will reflect on things I tend to do while listening to others. Then I will check whether I do those things when listening to myself.

When I’m listening to others I tend to do the following things.

1. Paying attention to what’s being said
Maintaining a good eye contact helps me focus on the speaker and what’s being said. On the contrary, if I am distracted by other things or thinking about something else, I’m most likely to miss the words spoken. I guess whether the speaker can feel comfortable talking with me partly depends on whether paying attention to him or her as well.

2. Suspending judgments
I know that I know a thing or two. Sometimes I feel I can make some useful comments. Or perhaps what the speaker is saying sounds so outrageous to me that I might feel the urge to cut in by saying something. But here’s a question: Do I have enough information to make judgments and/or does the speaker have more to say in addition to what he or she said? If the answer is No for either of these questions, then I’d rather keep listening to the speaker.

3. Trying to understand what’s being said
It is reasonable to assume that I and the speaker share some common ground that makes it possible for us to communicate with one another. But that doesn’t mean we can understand each other completely. Sometimes it’s possible that I and the speaker use certain terms differently. If I sense that possibility, I ask the speaker for clarification. This way, I can understand better what the speaker is trying to convey.

4. Waiting for the speaker to finish
Sometimes I do interrupt the speaker to ask for clarification, but I generally avoid it. Even when I need to interrupt, I guess I tend to let the speaker finish the sentence he or she is uttering at that moment before asking a question or making a comment.

5. Being helpful towards the speaker by being curious about what’s being said
In other words, I let the speaker know that I want to listen more–by asking questions or by directly telling about my intention. I tend to ask open questions that are related to the speaker and what the speaker said. This, I think, will make it easier for the speaker to talk about what he or she wants to talk about.

What do you do when you listen to others? How about those who you consider as good listeners? What do they do?

Now, here’s something I want to ask myself–when I listen to myself, do I practice those things I do with others? Actually, do I listen to myself at all?

Do I pay attention to what my inner self is saying? Do I avoid making quick judgments against myself? Do I try to understand myself better? Am I patient in listening to myself? Do I let my inner self speak more by being curious about his words?

I will work on the art of listening to myself so I can answer these questions positively. Let’s see what happens…

As I wrote the questions above, by the way, I had the following thought. “But do you really think this post is worthy? Don’t you think it’s rubbish?”

I’m not going to argue against such an inner voice. I will just write, edit and post. What I have written here is something I wanted to share with you, how trivial this piece may be. Now I’m sharing it with you and that’s all good.