YouMeWe in the Philippines

So happy to see the children in Boracay, Philippines joining YouMeWe class using the NightZooKeeper. This is part of our program to connect the Digital Citizens in Japan with the children overseas. We use NightZooKeeper as a tool to share English writing with each other but through SKYPE we are also looking to teach Japanese online as well as collaborate on Coding programs.

Rosetta Stone CEO visit

We were hosted at the Link and Motivation headquarters in Ginza Six yesterday by Dean Rogers, CEO of Rosetta Stone and Noriko Yamakoshi of the Premium Club. Dean explained about the company and helped inspire the children to meet someone who has started and grown his own business in Japan. The children said they were inspired to meet someone who was a success at their young age as it motivates them towards their goals.


Apple Field trip

Their time to shine.

Take your students or fellow teachers on an Apple Field Trip for an unforgettable learning experience. During the hands-on session, your group will take their imaginations to new heights using Apple products. And the work they create can complement existing classroom projects.

We visited Ginza yesterday and were taught by the very talented Masa who taught us how to use GarageBand and add the music to videos and photos and create our own movies.


Sharing and Caring Event

The “Sharing and Caring” event was hosted at a week long event at the Hikarie Gallery space on the 8F Aiima from August 6-12th.

Sharing with people during the bad times and caring during the good times.

The idea is that the NPOs in Tokyo who are focused on the same population both as a volunteer base as well as the beneficiaries can help host and event for the week with a daily showcase of the work they have done. For instance, with the orphan population in Japan.

We set up the gallery space with artwork and information about the NPOs and homes we support.





I wanted to share a personal story and why we do what we do.

I was the product of a teenage pregnancy. My parents were just out of high school.

For numerous reasons I never met my biological father so while I was not technically an orphan, I always wondered.

I had a name and a name of his sister. That is all. In those days, we just had the phone book. So I went through the phone book and never could find anyone.

My mother, when she became sick the first time, turned to creating her legacy of genealogy the analogue way of tracking the family tree and sending photocopied newsletters to all of the relatives on a monthly basis.

Once I moved to Japan, we relied on fax machines and then eventually the “internet” to keep in touch.

When the internet came along, I realized I could continue to look for my aunt with the unique name and so did searches, paid for info, looked all over the country but never was quite successful.

Years went passed. My mother unfortunately did not live passed 49 and so me having just turned 50 has been a eye opening experience.

Yet it was in 2007 when I was asked to play Santa in one of the children’s homes in Japan so over the many years tried to do what I could. I was offered to be the director of Living Dreams, as many of you know.

And it was a donor, who had moved on to another company but came up to me at a party and said, “You should contact the Masons. They give $1,000,000 a year away to charity.” I told him my great grandfather had been a mason. Another friend said, “If your great grandfather had been a mason, you should try to be one.”

I went online that night to the now digitized version of our family tree on

I updated the names of my twin daughters and while I was about to close the site, I scrolled over my mother’s name and the data has been improved quite a bit since 2010 when I was on the site last. If fact, it had the marriage records of her marrying my biological father and while I had thought he had passed away by then, he hadn’t.

And by doing those Internet searches way into the night I found that he was remarried an living in Fresno, California and that I had sisters I did not know about.

So, I made a copy of my baby photo and business card and sent it to the address online and received a message from one of my new found sisters via LinkedIN (very modern) meeting one’s siblings on LinkedIn!?!

I have since met almost everyone in the family on that side. I met the aunt who I couldn’t find and found that there are two more.

I have nieces and nephews and very happy to have them in our lives along with my own siblings from birth.

The phone book couldn’t take me to where I wanted to go. My paternal grandparents are buried in the same mausoleum as my great grandfather in Napa…yet our paths never crossed.

If I had never been invited to play Santa, I would never have known there are 30,000 children living in homes in Japan.

I would have never met that donor.

The conversation would never have taken place.

And now my life is quite complete.

Technology and connectivity matters.

That is why we do the work we do with the kids in Japan. 

To connect them to a future or information so that they don’t just rely on a phonebook.

When is the last time you left your phone at home and went without wifi for a day.

Imagine going 18 years...

....or in my case 48 years.

Global Giving Bonus Wednesday


 Sharing & Caring 2008 artwork &  photo                by Jårg Geismar

Sharing & Caring 2008 artwork &  photo                by Jårg Geismar

The June Accelerator is off to a great start! We're impressed with this group's energy and enthusiasm. So far, over 200 organizations from more than 50 countries have secured their first donor. Bravo! 

No matter where your organization is on the main leaderboardnext week is going to be a game changer. Why? Because the Accelerator Bonus Day is Wednesday, June 20th

Bonus Day is an exhilarating opportunity to get ahead; to use matching funds and cash prizes to leverage additional funding for your vital work. 


When: The Bonus Day will last 24 hours, from 00:00:01 to 23:59:59 EDT on Wednesday, June 20th. 

How can we win matching? The $10,000 Incentive Fund will be proportionally divided between organizations that activate during the day. 

Example: If your organization raises 5% of the total amount raised by all Accelerators on Bonus Day, you will receive 5%, or $500, of the Incentive Fund. 

Too much math? Don't worry! GlobalGiving will run the calculations for you every 3 minutes on the special Bonus Day leaderboard.

How can we win a cash prize? At the end of Bonus Day, the project with the most funds raised will win a $1,000 cash prize; the project with the most one-time donors will win $500; and the project with the most recurring donors on Bonus Day will win $500.  

Important Note: Only online donations up to $5,000 per donor per project will count towards winning Bonus Day prizes. 

Will Bonus Day results count towards the Accelerator goal? Absolutely! The Main Accelerator leaderboard will be capturing all of your donor activity throughout Wednesday Bonus Day. Incentive prizes from GlobalGiving on Bonus Day, however, are considered extra and will not be reflected in your total count towards graduating.  


Obaa-chan in the cloud project with Waseda Business School

Cindy, Chee Ming, Michael and Naveen,


Just want to say THANK YOU for giving an wonderful opportunity to our students. 


Most of them have never done "design thinking" exercise, so I believe they learned a lot --- although it was an extremely condensed version.


Hope ideas generated through the exercises gave some insight to Michael.


I am enclosing photos we took. Feel free to use/upload the photos if you want!


Thank you again, for everything!



Hiroshi Kanno


Waseda Business School

(Graduate School of Business and Finance)

Waseda University

A very special thanks to Balloon Circus

Connectivity Matters!

From an enquiry email last year to lighting up the faces of dozens and dozens of children at Iwate's Taiyo Gakuen, Sendai Tensien, Fukushima Aiikuen, Shirakawa Gakuen;Tokyo's St.Francis Home, St.Joseph's home, Kiyose Kodomo no ie, Matsubaen; Nagoya's Wakamatsu Ryo and Jiyugakuen.

Crossing oceans, cultures and languages. Laughter and play are the real bridge connecting us all!


Day 30, 31 & 32 Of Iva C.A.R.E.S Fund Raiser Has walked for a month...

Tokaido trek



Happy month-on-the-tokaido everyone!



Day 30. Jenny, Bow, Michael, James and and I visit another children's home. This home is taken care of by a monk I believe, who has been doing so for the past 100 years (got to double check!)



The inside was renovated and is now a truly lovely, fully equipped home. There is wood everywhere, the design is simple and spacious. When we intrude (again) on children having dinner, they seem relaxed and at home. It's a great sight :)



Later, thanks to the Balloon circus, everyone's juggling, spinning plates, and then performing (you should check out their skills!) We all had a great time thanks to everyone invovled :))) Good bye Jenny and Bow!




Day 31. My dear Tokaido, we reunite again.



Doing the calculations, my budget won't allow for any exploration/time-taking. Kyoto just some 90 km away, I gotta walk and just walk (another excuse to return to Nagoya!)



I walk until my gps points out that I have to take a ferry to Kuwana, so I take a train instead.



It's hot,  very hot. Yes, I am wearing the lightest clothes I own, and yes, it's not even summer. Yay me!



Past the familiar concrete buildings, traditional wooden ones return until they are all I see. When I read accounts of passing such houses, they often report a sense of "going back in time". I can see what they mean, but I cannot relate to it. To me, these traditional houses simply continue to be. Yes, they are hundreds of years old etc, but like an old tree, it's from our short-lived perspectives that there is any sense of going back in time.



Anyway :)



I spot a shop with an interesting chicken logo haha, and stop for a moment to look at it. An old man standing outside it welcomes me in and turns out to be the owner. It's a little cake shop and after the usual chatter, he rushes away and returns with a glass of cool water and a cold, creamy dessert, saying, "Oishi! Oishi!"



Oishi indeed! We talk, he brings me some cake, we talk some more, and before I leave me gives me a present of garlic crisps. Very nice of him! :D



Traditional houses, sun, gardens and little historic spots, more sun. I stop on a bench by a closed restaurant for some shade/to munch the crisps and an old man approaches. Yes, we talk too :)



He is the owner and inside his Italian restaurant he shows me a picture of mount Fuji. It is stunning. "I drew this with pencil colours," he says. Amazing!!! Around his entire restaurant are more of his drawings - old Italian villages, a bridge in paris, flowers upon flowers.

彼は、ここの御主人でこのイタリアンレストランの中にある富士山の絵を見せてくれた。すごく綺麗な絵だ。“私はこれを色鉛筆で描いたんだよ。”彼は言う。すごい!!! レストランの中には彼が描いた絵がもっと沢山あった。古いイタリアの村、パリの橋、次から次と花の絵。


He showed me a wooden model of this large ship-like thing they use in the traditional festivals and he says it took him 2 years to make. The detail was stunning!!!



His wife joins us and we talk about their travels to Europe etc and he gives me a small drawing as a present!



"Aenai", he tries to tell me before I leave. Not understanding,  he tries to explain it by saying that I am walking the Tokaido and he came here and I think, "ah, maybe he means it was  a lucky encounter!"

“あえない” 彼は私が去る前に何か伝えようとする。何を言おうとしているのか分からない。彼は私が東海道をここまで歩いて来たことを言いながら何か説明しようとする。私は“ああ、多分彼はこれが幸運の出会い”だと説明しようとしているのだろう。


"Aenai," he repeats. I nod, smile. "Hai, aenai!"

“あえない”彼は繰り返す。私は笑顔でうなずき “はい、あえない!”


Later on, I research the word. It means "tragic"...



It's time to learn Japanese...



The heat settles down as the sun sets and walk in the night. When I reach Yokkaichi, I find a park and camp between trees, but that night, I didn't freeze. That night, I had a sleeping mat. And I woke up to a gently rising sun and the singing of birds :)



Day 32. I get going at 5:30 am, but as the hours pass, it becomes roasting!



With 4 hours of rough sleep and an appetite of what I can only presume a wild boar would I have, the walk turns into a trudge. I trudge past a highway until a supermarket comes into sight. Never been happier to see one!



Food, water, charging my phone, a nap in a forest by a graveyard (that's another story!). I deeply wanted to just stay in the shade for the rest of the day, but the rhythm of the Tokaido is to keep moving. And so I kept on moving.



The houses on the route are really beautiful and seem older than the ones I've come across. At one point I pass a blue bridge and see a little gate that seems interesting. Time to explore. Small stone steps take me past trees and towards a large wooden temple surrounded by a garden.



The more I walk around, the more beautiful it is. There a small stone shrines  here and there, large blossoming flowers, a little hidden pond under trees, greeny of different shades and hues. A lady appears and she after the expected chat, she shows me around and tells me that she has lived here with her husband (the shrine's monk) for 40 years.



I meet her husband who gives me oranges and then their son (also a monk) show me the main shrine. It's around 380 years old and it's roof is actually depicted in one of Hiroshige's ukiyoe of the 53 stations of Tokaido!



We have a lovely talk, visit an ancient sakura tree from another of Hiroshige's ukiyoe, and then get going.



For the first time, school children start to say hello to me and a little boy even stops to ask me where I am from! As I past Shono post station around 6 pm, a car stops right by me and guess who comes out?

初めて、学校の子供達がハローと私に言う。小さな男の子が止まって私が何処からきたかと聞いた! 夕方6時頃に庄野宿を越えると、車が横で止まる。誰が出てきたと思う?


The monk's wife! 



She tells me her husband said it was dangerous for me to be camping alone (haha) and that I should stay the night with them! How nice!!!



They show me a book on the 53 stations of Tokaido as dinner is being prepared (cue for wild-boar-appetite). It's so interesting to compare the routes during the Edo period to what it is now, having walked through them.



We dine together and somehow manage to talk about buddism with the help of the dictionary on my phone haha. I had a great time and hope to share this experience better than the short words I have written here :)



But for now, the Tokaido calls...