July 17–20, 2014
Kiwanis International Convention Tokyo Chiba 2014

Convention news

  • Their Imperial Highness Prince and Princess Akishino to visit and welcome Kiwanis International convention attendees

    Jul 15, 2014

    Their Imperial Highness Prince and Princess Akishino will visit, and Prince Akishino will welcome more than 2,000 Kiwanis convention attendees during the opening session of the 99th Annual Kiwanis International Convention in Chiba, Japan next Thursday.

    “We are so honored that Their Imperial Highness Prince and Princess Akishino will visit our convention to welcome Kiwanis members from around the world,” said Kiwanis International President Gunter Gasser. “Their presence at our convention will be an extraordinary experience, and we are pleased to be able to share the important charity works of Kiwanis International, especially the success of The Eliminate Project, with the Imperial Family.”

    Each year, Kiwanis members from more than 25 countries attend the Kiwanis International convention for education, idea-sharing, speakers, entertainment, workshops and governance.

    This year, attendees also will celebrate the momentum of The Eliminate Project, Kiwanis’ effort to rid the world of maternal and neonatal tetanus. Kiwanis’ Japan District is a fundraising leader for The Eliminate Project, leading the way in per-member-fundraising and surpassing the district’s goal of US$1 million.

    “We are humbled that His Imperial Highness would take time from his schedule to speak to our Kiwanis members, who are passionate about serving their communities around the world,” said former Kiwanis International Trustee Tadao Oda. “I know our Japanese members feel especially privileged to have Their Imperial Highness Prince and Princess Akishino as our guests.”

    The opening session of the 99th Annual Kiwanis International Convention will take place on Thursday, July 17 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba.

  • Connelly recipient Shun Gen saves boy from drowning

    Apr 15, 2014

    In the Osaka Prefecture last September, Shun Gen was jogging along the Yodo River when he saw something terrible: a young boy had fallen into the water. Mr Shun Gen immediately jumped into the river to attempt a rescue, but the force of the current prevented him from reaching the nine-year-old child. 
    Mr. Shun Gen got out of the water and ran along the bank, following the boy as he was carried by the river for about 350 meters. Another person handed a rope to Shun Gen, who jumped back into the water—and finally pulled the boy safely to shore. 
    For his heroism, the Kiwanis International Foundation is proud to present Shun Gen with the Robert P. Connelly Medal of Heroism. The medal will be presented at the 2014 Kiwanis International convention in Japan. 
    Shun Gen was nominated by Kiwanian Hiroshi Ishikawa, from the Senshu, Osaka, Kiwanis Club.

  • Modern shoguns

    Mar 11, 2014

    They seem to be flying, with their long flowing pants, as they launch, screaming, towards their opponents. Blows hit masks repeatedly. A player retreats, does powerful jumps and administers a final, precise blow. Shouting, slide, silence. 

    In every corner of the room, new attacks begin and end. These men are police officers of the Kanagawa prefecture, southeast of Tokyo. Dressed in black outfits reminiscent of the ones ancient Shogun warriors wore, they train every day in kendo, a martial art that enhances both physical readiness and mental control.
    In a one-on-one bout, three elements must be executed perfectly in order to gain a point: Posture, shouting and hitting. Every warrior is judged on these elements by three referees standing outside the perimeter. Each referee carries one red and one white flag, raising the appropriate one when they feel the red or the white player has scored a point.
    You might ask: With so little crime in Japan, why such intense training? The police chief smiles. His unspoken answer: tradition.
    During the Tokyo-Chiba convention, that tradition will be on thrilling display with kendo demonstrations at the Japan culture fair. Don’t miss this extraordinary performance of strength and art.
  • A Kiwanis insider in Japan

    Feb 13, 2014

    An interview of Koshiro Kitazato, host committee chairman
    Member of the Tokyo Club, 230 members, established January 24, 1964
    First Kiwanis club in Asia-Pacific.

    Fifty years ago, the first Kiwanis club was established in the Asia-Pacific region. That club is yours, the Tokyo club. Can you reflect on this anniversary and on 50 years of Kiwanis in the Asia-Pacific region? 

    Kiwanis was established in Japan 50 years ago by people who were highly motivated to help others, particularly children. The Tokyo club has nurtured this spirit every since then. We’d like to show this original spirit of our founders on the occasion of the convention. This is reflected in our successful achievement in The Eliminate Project campaign. The Japan District per capita donation to The Eliminate Project is number one in the world. 

    When we started, I was worried, because this is when the tsunami happened, everyone was so distressed, every newspaper called for help to the tsunami victims. We received tremendous help from the world during the tsunami disaster. It was time to return the favor and the Japan clubs stepped up. Even the club of Sendai, which was hit hard by the tsunami, wished to become a model club. I was very impressed by this attitude. While they were still suffering, they wanted to return the favor they had received from the world. 

    What surprises await Kiwanians at the 2014 convention? 

    If I say it, it won’t be a surprise! We are preparing a lot so attendees can experience the culture of Japan.

    You speak English so well. Have you lived abroad?
    Yes, I lived in Honolulu for four years, Madrid for four years, and London for four years, all for my business.

    Are there cultural tips you could give Kiwanians traveling in your country? 
    Japan is a very safe country. If you need help, people are happy to help you. They are reserved, but if you ask, they are there for you. They want you to enjoy your stay in Japan. 

    If Kiwanians could visit only one thing in Tokyo, what would it be and why?

    Asakusa. It’s a very old temple, 1,400 years old, people come to pray for long life, prosperity and safety. There are three Shinto shrines and one Buddhist temple. A temple is a realization of your mind—who you are, what you want to be—through visualization. In a shrine, you purify yourself.  Also, in Asakusa, there is a long line of shops with all kinds of souvenirs. From there, you can see the Tokyo Skytree.

    What aspect of Japanese culture is a must-have experience?
    Patience. You should be patient and considerate to others before you demand something. Be patient and then you will get what you want.

    In preparing for their trip to Japan, what should Kiwanians think to bring along?
    A camera. Walking shoes. A free mind.

    What souvenir gifts would you recommend Kiwanians and their guests bring back from Japan or the Tokyo area? (for themselves or as gifts to others)
    • Senbei. They are rice crackers, very light, two inches in diameter, very crispy.
    • Aburatorigami. This is a skin oil removing paper. Very popular.
    • Japanese fans. They can be functional when it is hot, and can be displayed in a home for their beauty.
    • Happi coat. It’s a coat for festivals, shaped like short coat with a belt. It is worn when you cheer your sports team.
    • Japanese pottery. Dishes, bowls, small tea cups, etc.
    • Yukata. This is a kind of cotton kimono for the summer time.
    • Inro. This is a small wooden box attached to the belt containing medicine. It’s an antique.

    What are your favorite restaurants in Makuhari?
    There is a wide variety of restaurants, I cannot pick. French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean—even McDonald’s!

    What activities do you recommend in Makuhari, outside of those on the convention agenda?

    There is a baseball stadium next to the convention center. Professional baseball games are played there. It’s the home stadium of the Chiba Lotte Marines. 

    You can go to the Disney resort. It’s open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. You can take a walk on the beach. Mihama-en, a Japanese garden, is within a short walking distance. There are several outlet shopping centers.

    We look forward to welcoming Kiwanians from around the world! See you in Japan!

  • Fun facts, useful tips about Japan

    Jan 16, 2014
    Read these fun facts about our host country and navigate the culture seamlessly using these useful tips.
    • Tips not accepted. Impeccable service is the norm in Japan, but tipping is not expected, nor accepted.
    • The theft rate is extremely low in Japan. In fact, you may even see bikes that aren’t locked or chained.
    • Upon arriving and departing, buses are often saluted by bus employees staying on the ground. A deep bow is in order.
    • You will see some people wearing white masks over their mouths. In Japan, this is a common way to protect against germs—and to prevent the spread of germs when one is sick.
    • People waiting at a bus stop or for a train will form a line.
    • Common convenience store chains are 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson. They sell everything from magazines to cigarettes, toiletries, soups, candy, beer, rice balls, skewered chicken, the iconic clear umbrellas and even thermal underwear.
    • Vending machines are everywhere. Cigarettes and drinks (both hot and cold) are the most common items sold.
    • Cars will stop at a pedestrian crossing the moment a pedestrian is about to cross.
    • Children and teens wear an elaborate uniform to school. It often includes a hat or a cap.
    • If you look lost while holding a map, a small crowd might soon form around you to try and help. Don’t be surprised if people go completely out of their way to help you find the place you were looking for.
    • Cigarette vending machines require the buyer to insert an ID to prove his or her age.
    • Many convenience stores are open 24 hours a day.
    • Umbrella lockers are available.
    • Bikers ride on sidewalks. The good news: It’s common enough that riders are good at seamlessly avoiding pedestrians.
    • Do not cross the street when the sign is red at an intersection—even if there are no cars or bikes in sight.
    • Outside of restaurants, plastic facsimiles of dishes serve both as menus for non-Japanese speakers and enticements for Japanese-speaking customers.
    • Magazines in stands are sometimes protected by a strip preventing their being read in the store, thereby keeping the magazine intact for the actual buyer.
    • When entering a store or restaurant, employees may greet you by shouting, “Irasshaimase!” Don’t worry—they’re saying, “Welcome!”
    • Slurping is fine when eating noodles.
    • You may notice the word “kudasai” being repeated very often. It means “please.”
    • If you wish to stand still while going up an escalator, stay to the left. If you walk up, use the right side.
    • Stairs in the Tokyo metro are coded with arrows—one side for going up, the other for going down. They’re particularly important to follow during rush hour.
    • On the Tokyo metro, wait until people exit before attempting to board a train.
    • Taxi cabs often have white lace slip covers over the seats.
    • On the streets during rush hour, companies often hand out packages of tissues with their logos and business information.