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Back to Contents of Issue: July 2004

Chicken Soup In Japan ...

Chicken Soup for Japan
Japanese bestseller lists are routinely topped by self-help books. These are so popular here that it was only a matter of time before the Chicken Soup franchise came calling. Chicken Soup for the Japanese Soul is due to begin inspiring the masses in November.

What is surprising is that a tiny publishing outfit called Alexandra Press has been chosen over industry Goliaths to helm the project. A Chicken Soup representative contacted local entrepreneur Caroline Pover after hearing her give a talk. Could her publishing business manage a Japanese version of Chicken Soup? Could she churn out, say, a million copies?

"I came out of that meeting in a little bit of a daze," says Pover. With sales of Chicken Soup titles topping 80 million copies worldwide, the publishing coup is tough to overstate.

Pover originally set up Alexandra Press to publish and distribute her Being A Broad in Japan, a guidebook for foreign women. An instant hit, it opened up distribution channels later coveted by other do-it-yourself authors.

Alexandra Press has subsequently become a viable business in its own right. But with only five titles under her belt, totaling less than 50,000 copies, a project of Chicken Soup proportions is a tall order.

Speaking in the inspirational terms of the Chicken Soup books, Jim Hunter, the Chicken Soup rep who approached Pover, justifies such ambition. "A million copies is a lot of books, it's a stretch," he says. "However, you don't set goals you can easily achieve. You set goals that are a stretch."

Hunter says more established publishing houses weren't even considered because of the bureaucratic style of the Japanese publishing system. He adds that Pover was a more logical choice because her success and demeanor fit Chicken Soup's philosophy.

"She's an out-of-the-box thinker, she's very action minded, she likes to accomplish things," Hunter says. "That's exactly the kind of person I needed to join this project."

So far, Pover has either published or has been a consultant for books in English. This will mark a huge leap to the Japanese mainstream, a move that suggests Pover may soon become a publishing Goliath herself.

Hitachi and Omron Join Together
In mid-May, Hitachi, Ltd. and Omron Corporation, a leader in sensing and control technology, announced the outline for a joint venture combining their ATM and information equipment businesses. The decision was based on an agreement the two companies cinched at the end of January.

The new company, to start operations on October 1, 2004, will be called Hitachi-Omron Terminal Solutions, Corp. and will be responsible for the planning, development, manufacture and sale of ATMs and other self-service machines--in addition to terminal systems and other information equipment--and for the modules and solutions businesses.

Aiming for a globally competitive position, in an information equipment market expected to see massive growth in the years ahead, the new company will fulfill broad customer needs by providing optimal solutions based on recognition and handling technologies for cash, cards, passbooks, forms and other human interface technologies that enable simple operation for customers and end-users.

Can't Be Beet
When celebrated French chef Stephane Gaborieau popped up at the Tokyo Hilton this spring, we were treated to an evening of stellar surprises.

Gaborieau's five-day guest appearance at Twenty One, the hotel's elegant French-Pacific restaurant, marked the chef's second visit to Japan. But memories of his first encounter provided the inspiration for his very latest culinary creations. "I used the beet in tempura two years ago, and I loved it," the chef explained. "I'm drawn to its mix of sweet and sour."

While Gaborieau's novel approach to tempura wasn't on the menu, nearly every course contained a similarly startling innovation. The moelleux of anchovies softly collapsed beneath our forks to reveal a colorful entanglement of peppers, whose mellow juices helped neutralize the saltier fish; the warmth of a tender scallop perched atop dried apricots was enhanced by fig juice. And the beet made its heroic appearance in a dessert: Beetroot Cristalline. Paired with a stately glass of Sauternes Baron Phillipe, the beet's presence produced a satisfying tang on our tongues--though we still want to try that tempura.

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