Several months ago, I blogged about my high school friend Hiro Fujita, who is living with ALS in Japan. Next Wednesday, he's going to be giving a public talk at McCann Erickson Japan &mdash the ad agency he works at &mdash together with rapper Verbal and father-of-Harajuku Hiroshi Fujiwara. Through a candid conversation, the trio will be providing much-needed information about ALS to the Japanese public. Live tickets are limited, but it will also be streamed in real time on Kaikai Kiki's UStream channel if you want to watch online. More details here.

Material Change, a new book about fabrics, design, and human rights

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My friend Eve Blossom recently released this beautifully bound, thoughtful, and inspirational book called Material Change. Eve does her part in making the world a better place by connecting artisans from countries plagued by human trafficking with high-end designers to create beautiful fabrics through her company, Lulan. The book puts her story in the context of the larger movement of social entrepreneurship and design thinking, both movements that are super close to my heart as well. There’s even a little segment in there about Tofu Project advisor Joi Ito! Be sure to check it out next time you’re at a bookstore.

Happy New Year from TokyoMango!

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For those of you who have not gone to sleep on January 1 yet, please try to dream about Mt. Fuji, an eggplant, or an eagle. It has long been known that carrying one of these three items in your subconscious is the key to having a good year.

The photo above is of kids’ calligraphy at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. If you ever wondered why all Japanese people have excellent penmanship, it is because we are trained to do this from a very young age.

My friend Hiro’s leading a movement for awareness of ALS in Japan

L10200841I was shocked to learn this summer that my friend Hiro, whom I know from high school in Tokyo, is living with ALS. The US National Library of Medicine describes it as follows:

In ALS, nerve cells (neurons) waste away or die, and can no longer send messages to muscles. This eventually leads to muscle weakening, twitching, and an inability to move the arms, legs, and body. The condition slowly gets worse. When the muscles in the chest area stop working, it becomes hard or impossible to breathe on one’s own.

Hiro’s always been a popular guy, and I’m happy to know that our friends are taking good care of him in Tokyo and that his company–the global ad agency McCann Erickson–still appreciates his contributions to the workplace even though he can’t come to the office as often as he used to. I also think he’s super brave for telling his story to the press, and posting his fight for life on Facebook. I’m not sure how a shout out on TokyoMango is going to help, but I wanted to let you guys know that this man is leading a movement to raise awareness for ALS in Japan. If you have any ideas on how to help, leave a comment!

Watch ONL x Tofu day live

In case you’re not in Tokyo or stuck at work during our 10-12AM JST Friday session on innovation and tech in Japan at Open Network Lab, here’s the live stream of the event. I’ll be on for the first 10 minutes, and then I’m passing it on to my much more eloquent lineup of speakers.

Here’s a link: http://bit.ly/qQszYp
The hashtag if you tweet about it is #onlxtofu

Why I’m not partaking in the media frenzy about the earthquake

Sorry I haven’t been posting anything here. You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m doing while Japan is undergoing this major natural disaster-turned-nuclear crisis that nobody really knows the whole truth about yet. I’m focused on getting my immediate family to safety. And working on a surprise story that you’ll find in the May issue of Wired.

Also, today, I was hit with a bad cold and a sudden onslaught of homesickness, so I went to Japantown for a dip in the hot tub at Imperial Spa and then bought some mushipan and osenbei.

I hope everyone is staying safe, positive, brave, and realistic.

I’m also tweeting occasional updates and thoughts, so that’s where you can find me in real time.

Miyashita Park will soon become a giant Nike playground

Nike is building a huge indoor playground at Miyashita Park. They just started construction, and people are sitting in to protest. Am I against the fact that a giant American corporation is turning the park where I first smoked pot and made out with a boy into a commercial enterprise? Maybe. I’m also sad for the wonderfully content homeless community under blue vinyl makeshift roofs who obviously had to relocate in order to accommodate this project. However, I also welcome the addition of a quality rock climbing gym in an easily accessible location. Feeling a little torn.

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