TT-934 -- Ashinaga: Orphans Have a Benefactor on Their Side, e-biz news from Japan

An Insider's comments on Japan's high tech business world
* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

General Edition Sunday, Mar 04, 2018, Issue No. 934

- What's New -- Ashinaga: Orphans Have a Benefactor on Their Side
- News -- Free for all on Olympics advertising?
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback - The Over-touristing of Kyoto
- Travel Picks -- Pop-up restaurants along Kibune river in Kyoto, Aso
fire festival in Kyushu
- News Credits

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at:



Ashinaga: Orphans Have a Benefactor on Their Side

One of the great things about being a foreign entrepreneur in Japan is
the many unexpected opportunities that come your way. Mostly those
opportunities are business related, and after the initial excitement has
worn off, they are all about process and delivering promises. But every
now and again, something different comes along, and in February I was
asked to hold a company startup seminar for the Ashinaga organization.

For those who have lived in Japan for a while, you'll probably know
Ashinaga by its English nickname, Daddy Long Legs, the organization that
helps kids without parents get counseling, friends, and financial
support. The organization is most visible by its semi-annual fundraising
drives, where young volunteers stand out in front of train stations
soliciting donations. As an aside, although street-side donations
solicitation is now a common sight, when Ashinaga first got started back
in the 1960's it was a novel way to receive funds that would otherwise
normally have come through government handouts (and subject to political
interference), so they were the first NGO to raise funds on the street
anonymously. Even today, and per their website, Ashinaga says it does
not take government funds.

Ashinaga first got started in Japan when its founder, Yoshiomi Tamai,
lost his mother in a traffic accident in 1963. As he tried to cope with
his loss, he found that there were very few support services in Japan
for orphaned kids and became a high-profile critic of government
policies, eventually setting up in 1967 the Association for Traffic
Accident Orphans. The organization has since grown from these humble
beginnings to one that today annually helps thousands of orphaned kids
in Japan and hundreds overseas. Services offered include emotional
support, financial support, education, summer camps, personal training
on how to transition to the adult world, and leadership opportunities
through volunteering.

--------- From Veggie Burgers to Carrot Cake --------------

Our commitment at Alishan Organics is to give our customers the best of
western organic foods, but prepared with a Japanese twist. That's why
our menus cover such a broad range of styles and tastes. If you're just
getting to know us, why not visit our cafe by the river in Saitama? That
way you can try out a variety of dishes and decide for yourself. Choose
from an Amy's organic pizza straight from the oven, a mouthwatering
veggie burger packed with seasonal greens and reds, or if you're feeling
chilly, a filling vegetable curry with rice. And although we're healthy
minded, we don't skimp on desserts. Favorites include Jack's scrumptious
carrot cake, vegan brownies (of course with vegan icecream), and baked
banana cheese cake.

Our Cafe:
Our new online store:

[...Article continues]

Ashinaga's definition of its audience (starting with orphans) is kids
who have lost one parent or both, and kids who are economically deprived
because the family breadwinner is unable to work due to disability. In
Japan, things are tough for orphans and kids of one-parent families.
Some 53% of them are unable to get higher education because of financial
difficulties, and about 25% of students work part-time to help support
their families. I've mentioned before in Terrie's Takes about the 3.5m
kids in mostly single-parent families living below the poverty line,
with a family of mom and 1 or 2 kids struggling to get by on less than
JPY2.2m a year. The Guardian has a good story from last year on the
state of child poverty in Japan. [Guardian story]

But this particular day, I wasn't addressing Japanese kids. Rather, back
in 2014 Ashinaga started a new program called the Ashinaga African
Initiative (AAI), which supports orphans from sub-Saharan Africa. So my
group was 29 young people aged between 20 and 30 from sub-Saharan
Africa. They were a gathering of the first to fourth waves of students
who have come to Japan to study at universities around the country,
generally in English, and completely at the expense of the Ashinaga
organization. The first wave will graduate this year, marking a
milestone for the organization.

As I quickly found out, Ashinaga sets a high bar for the selection of
scholarship recipients, and only the best and brightest make it. This is
tough on the bulk of applicants back home but is a reality if you want
to change the world through seeding it with dedicated minds and hearts.
Further, not all these scholarships are just for Africa, and globally
the growth has been impressive. In 2014 there were 10 students from 10
countries, and in 2017 there were 105 students from 38 countries.

As another aside, according to a 2001 UNICEF report, the sub-Saharan
region of Africa has the highest number of orphaned kids in the world,
with about 10% of the entire child population having lost one or both
parents. The common causes are HIV, other fatal illnesses, and violent
crime. Only 6% of sub-Saharan Africa's kids go to college, compared to
62% in Japan, and of course those losing a parent are simply struggling
to survive, so the number going to college is a MUCH smaller percentage

The AAI program has a simple aim, which although right now is admittedly
a drop in the ocean, over time it may make a huge difference. The
program seeks to develop future leaders, so ethics and the ethos of
helping others is well inculcated. Indeed, one of the requirements of
participating in the 4-year college degrees being offered in Japan is
that the group needs to return home to help their own countries to
improve socially and economically. This is no empty concept - I asked
the group who wanted to go back to Africa after experiencing life and
study in Japan. I expected around half to indicate that they wanted to
stay on in Japan, but in fact everyone raised their hands.

The thinking behind giving students entrepreneurship classes is a simple
one. Orphans typically don't have the support networks that their fellow
citizens do, and if they are not taught how to help themselves then
going to university may prove a wasted four years. The content of my
presentation and of other presentations that they are receiving,
revolves significantly around the ability to create good ideas, learn
how capital is raised and ideas leveraged, and how to hire and motivate
people. I found the team to be highly engaged and asked great questions
about setting up their own businesses. Some have already asked me to
mentor them.

When you look at the growth and sophistication of Ashinaga, you have to
wonder how much it costs to run the organization and where the money
comes from. Although I asked a number of people in my network who might
know otherwise, it seems that the organization is kosher and is funded
by the success of its Daddy Long Legs fundraisers, coupled with
increasing amounts of direct donations. In some ways, brand wise,
Ashinaga is now as famous and respected as the Red Cross in Japan, and
is certainly just as well trusted when people think of orphans.

Probably one reason for this success has been the ability of the
leadership to coopt a large base of publicly visible supporters. For
example, in addition to the Board and a group of Advisors, they have
formed an International Advisory Council of prominent people. Members of
the Council include some of the leading academic, business, and
celebrity figures in Africa, as well as such leaders such as Masayoshi
Son of Softbank and Jean-Christophe Rufin of France, the founder of
Médecins Sans Frontières. There are of course assorted figures who have
previously held posts in Japanese government organizations, but
surprisingly, there seems to be little influence from sitting
politicians. [Ed: Although I'm sure readers will tell me if this is not
the case...!]

...The information janitors/


----- Snowshoeing in Minakami, Gunma, 11th March 2018 ----- is organizing a small-group day trip to Gunma
prefecture, where you will traverse the snowy, mountainous region of
Minakami via snowshoes! Be led by a certified English-speaking mountain
guide who will assist you in navigating the terrain. After that, move on
to the beautiful Takaragawa Onsen for a soak in the hot springs beside
the river, before heading back to Tokyo!

Snow wear and equipment is required for the trip - you can either bring
your own, or rent with JapanTravel.

Shop the experience here:

+++ NEWS

- Free for all on Olympics advertising?
- Long-lost Monet recovered, but badly damaged
- Coincheck loot went to Canada
- How low can unemployment figures go?
- eBay comes back to town via M&A

=> Free for all on Olympics advertising?

Interesting decision by the government to decide against passing any
laws to prevent media firms and others from capitalizing on the 2020
Olympics and Paralympics. Other countries have typically passed special
laws preventing anyone from "unauthorized expressions that imply an
association with the Olympics" (quoted from Yomiuri's article).
According to Deputy PM, Taro Aso, special laws are not necessary,
because the Olympics brand and logo are already protected by Japan's
existing intellectual property laws. ***Ed: That may well be, but
allowing firms to claim some association, even though they are not
official sponsors, does seem to dilute the value of the tens of millions
of dollars that official sponsors have had to lay out. That said, Aso's
approach will no doubt stimulate a bunch of new businesses and websites
relating to the Olympics, and that will be good for the economy overall
for the next 2 years.** (Source: TT commentary from,
Mar 3, 2018)

=> Long-lost Monet recovered, but badly damaged

A little-known fact is that in the 1910s and 1920s, a Japanese
industrialist was one of the major buyers of European impressionist art.
Kojiro Matsukata collected dozens of Monets, Van Goghs, Cezannes, and
others, with 12 paintings being bought directly from Monet whom
Matsukata counted as a personal friend. During WWII, Matsukata sent the
bulk of his art to the Louvre for safe-keeping, and after the war his
family temporarily lost control of the collection as the French
government confiscated them due to Japan being a member of the Axis
powers. All but 14 paintings were eventually returned, with one
exception being a large Monet called Weeping Willow on the Water-Lily
Pond (1916). This painting actually went missing and was recently
discovered at the Louvre, rolled up in a storage facility there.
Unfortunately, the Louvre doesn't always live up to its name and had
allowed the painting to massively deteriorate, such that half the
painting has molded away and the other half is largely
indistinguishable. Nonetheless, the painting has been returned and
Tokyo's National Museum of Western Art has said it will restore and
display it by 2019. ***Ed: Not many people know that one of the best
versions of Van Gogh's sunflowers is available for viewing most days at
the Sompo Japan insurance company's corporate tower in Shinjuku. It is
mesmorizingly beautiful.** (Source: TT commentary from, Mar 3, 2018) [Sompo Japan art site]

=> Coincheck loot went to Canada

An organization called Blockchain Intelligence Group Inc. (BIG) has said
that it has traced the majority of the 523m coins stolen from the
Coincheck exchange to accounts in Vancouver, and that about 5% have been
converted and sent back as other digital currency to accounts in Japan.
Apparently the theft is associated with 11 anonymous addresses, and
these are being tracked by both the NEM organization in Singapore, as
well as freelancers like BIG. NEM has already tagged the stolen coins,
and plans to release an auto-detection algorithm, to alert exchanges
around the world that the coins are stolen. ***Ed: The efforts the NEM
organization is putting in will go a long way to alleviating fears by
other digital currency holders, although clearly it's the security of
the exchanges themselves that is still the biggest concern. Also
wondering when Coincheck will explain how it plans to raise enough money
to compensate its users?** (Source: TT commentary from,
Mar 2, 2018)

=> How low can unemployment figures go?

According to the government, the unemployment rate has fallen to its
lowest level in 24 years, 2.4% in January. Further, jobs availability is
at its highest level in almost 40 years. There are currently 159 job
openings for every 100 job seekers. ***Ed: While this may be a good
thing, it's disturbing that there has been barely any movement in wages
being paid. Fundamentally, if there is a shortage of workers then how
come employers are not competing for them by offering higher salaries?
Our take is that most of the job openings available are in technology
and sales, and are not an accurate representation of the general
robustness of the economy. Despite this "tight" labor market, most
workers are stuck in traditional, low-paying jobs in struggling small-
to medium-sized companies. So the situation continues to be difficult in
this sector - both for staff and firms.** (Source: TT commentary from, Mar 2, 2018)

=> eBay comes back to town via M&A

The Japanese media is having a field day crowing about how eBay, after
bowing out of the Japanese market years ago, is now back in Japan by
virtue of an acquisition it made this week. eBay has bought, a
reseller and re-shipper for overseas Japanese (and others) wanting to
buy products in Japan. is a subsidiary of Giosis, which eBay
already has a stake in, and so the deal is all in the family (and thus
at an undisclosed valuation). eBay will transfer's 250 staff to
eBay's existing office in Japan. ***Ed: Although as the Nikkei points
out's membership numbers are just 1% of Rakuten's (9m versus
90m people), they shouldn't get too cocky. eBay has some seriously good
technology and financial firepower, and will be in the game to win back
market share from Rakuten and Amazon Japan.** (Source: TT commentary
from, Feb 28, 2016)

NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.


---------- Bilingual vet clinic opens in Azabu ------------

PetLife Veterinary Clinic is opening its doors in central Tokyo from
March, providing bilingual (Japanese/English) services for both the
domestic and international communities. The clinic provides experienced
veterinarians with many years of experience serving families and their
pets using the latest technology. They have a compassionate and welcome
approach and aim to nurture close bonds within the local community.

The official opening is March 6. Pet owners are welcome to come visit
and check out the new center.

1F. Daiichi Bldg., 2-3-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044.
TEL:03-6807-4058 Website:


--------- UK/Germany Japan Travel Seminars --------------

Title: "Latests Trends in Japan's Inbound Travel Boom"
A series of free travel seminars in the UK and Germany, by Terrie Lloyd

Japan is in the midst of the world's largest inbound travel boom in the
last 20 years. From 2011 until 2017, the number of inbound travelers has
increased 450%, from 6.2m to 28m (estimated) by March 31st this year.
What is exciting about this US$40bn+ travel boom is that more than 50%
of the market is held by non-Japanese firms, and that means great
opportunities for UK and German firms as the growth continues.

As founder and CEO of one of Japan's top inbound travel sites,, Terrie Lloyd is at the forefront of the market,
helping to make and shape trends as the market evolves. His particular
focus is on repeat travelers, who now account for more than 55% of the
flow, and who are demanding more specialist experiences that typically
define a maturing market. His presentation will share the latest news on
what trends are emerging, and where the opportunities lie for UK and
European firms.

Terrie will give some specific examples of new travel products and
services now under development, particularly highlighting hiking and
trekking trails in Kyushu, a still-underdeveloped part of Japan (read,
low cost, great food, and no hordes of tourists)

Speaking Locations
Seminar 1: London, UK, Monday March 5th in the London CBD ( 2 Stephen
Street, London, W1T 1AN, +44-20-3457-0170)
Seminar 2 & 3: Berlin, Germany, Thursday March 8th at a location close
to the ITB expo (Scenery Room, Ku' Damm 101 Hotel, Kurfürstendamm 101,
10711 Berlin, +49-30-3110-3781)

The seminars are free of charge. Other details will be confirmed as they
come to hand. Interested attendees can reserve a space, by emailing us


*** In Terrie's Take 933 we lamented the overcrowding of Kyoto by
foreign tourists, and this sparked a flood of responses. Some of the
better ones are here:

=> Reader: You said, in part, "As I write this, I am returning on a
Nozomi shinkansen after doing a speaking engagement in Kyoto..."

Actually, try traveling on a Hikari nowadays, which is where all the
tourists are! My discount card restricts me to Hikari, and for specific
trains at certain times I need to book 5 or more days in advance to be
sure of getting a D or E seat. I've traveled on trains where the doors
on the non-platform side of the cars are packed with suitcases. It's
getting pretty grim.

=> Reader (in Italy)

Kyoto is crowded, and that is creating problems... How can this really
be a surprise? I lived in Venice (Italy) for 3 years when I was at
University, and I remember how it was as a resident of a massive tourist
destination. In fact, Venezia is a city that sees no slumps on tourism.
There are no other cities to compare it to, not even the canals in
Amsterdam have the same level of atmosphere. Since it is only a few
hours away from the other major tourist destinations of Austria and
Croatia, anyone coming to Italy from Germany or Eastern Europe will
definitely stop over in Venezia.

As a resident, I clearly remember how the winter months were the best.
The number of tourists was low, and so was the amount of garbage in the
canals, the smell of sweat disappeared, and crowding in the tight
"calles" of a city without many roads, eased. Now, Kyoto is witnessing
what happens to resident's manners when a flood of tourists come in. I
feel for them and have to say that I would have been happy to shove many
a tourist in the canals... sometimes!

Transportation wise, Kyoto's situation is better. In Venezia when
tourists mis-step while boarding a gondola, they end up taking a bath in
the canal! In Kyoto they only have to deal with crowded buses. Also,
seeing the trend, I wonder if more "tourist traps" will appear, selling
worthless junk for high prices to the unaware visitors...?

=> Reader

While I agree with most of your observations about the Kyoto tourist
market, I was surprised by your statement about the lack of data. In
fact, Kyoto City puts out detailed numbers on total visitors and foreign
visitors, so here is a link: [Kyoto City visitor stats PDF]



=> Kyoto Kibune Riverside Walk, Kyoto
Enjoy cool air, healing power of the forest

Kibune River is a tributary of the Kamogawa, which runs through central
Kyoto. From May to September, the restaurants alongside the Kibune set
up tables that extend out over the river. It is a good way to enjoy the
cool air and a delicious meal, while avoiding the hot humid summer.
Kifune Shrine has also become famous as a healing Power Spot. The shrine
is a 30-minute walk from Kibune-guchi Station on the Eizan Tesudo Line.

=> Aso Fire Festival, Kyushu
A springtime celebration

The Aso region of central Kumamoto celebrates a month-long fire festival
every year at the end of winter, to prepare for the upcoming growing
season. Several events make up the festival, including the Dai
Himonjiyaki, the main event. This involves the lighting of a giant
Chinese character representing "fire" on the hillside of Ojo-dake on the
second Saturday of March. The surrounding grasslands are also burned to
keep the pastureland in good condition, in a ritual known as no-yaki. A
fire swinging ritual, hifuri shinji, takes place at Aso Shrine on the
third Saturday in March. This year, the main event will take place
Saturday - Mar 17th 2018, 6:00pm - 8:00pm.



SUBSCRIBERS: 6,340 members as of Mar 04, 2018 (We purge our list regularly.)


Written by: Terrie Lloyd (

HELP: E-mail with the word 'help' in
the subject or body (don't include the quotes), and you will get back a
message with instructions.

Send letters (Feedback, Inquiries & Information) to the editor to

For more information on advertising in this newsletter, contact

Get Terrie's Take by giving your name and email address at, or go straight to
Mailman at:


Copyright 2018 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.

----------------- Japan Inc opens up Japan ----------------

J@pan Inc authoritatively chronicles business trends in Japan. Each
posting brings you in-depth analysis of business, people and technology
in the world's third largest economy.

Visit for the best business insight on Japan available.

Terrie mailing list