46 episodes

Insightful conversations with Japan experts focused on business and culture, with stories of success & failure and lessons learned. Entertaining and educational, discover first-hand what it’s like to live, work, and experience the most fascinating country in the world. Direct from Tokyo, this is the Now and Zen Podcast!

Now and Zen Japan Andrew Hankinson

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

Insightful conversations with Japan experts focused on business and culture, with stories of success & failure and lessons learned. Entertaining and educational, discover first-hand what it’s like to live, work, and experience the most fascinating country in the world. Direct from Tokyo, this is the Now and Zen Podcast!

    Kaki Okumura: Japanese Principles to Live a Longer & Happier Life

    Kaki Okumura: Japanese Principles to Live a Longer & Happier Life

    This conversation is one of the most amazing I've had since starting Now and Zen Japan. This episode could certainly change your life. Especially if you suffer from unhealthy lifestyle habits. Prepare to be blown away by Kaki Okumura's wisdom, demeanor, and insight into well-being and nutrition.  Kaki breaks down Japanese based wellness concepts through her "Four Essential Pillars to Healthy Living" in a very convincing and non-preachy way.  She is a writer, an illustrator, a wellness coach, and very well could be a therapist or nutrition teacher. In addition to her fascinating backstory  which includes her experience with food being a source of stress and anxiety and how healthy eating does not have to be a sacrifice,  we get into her business as a writer on Medium, starting her own business just after university, and the various revenue streams she has built for herself. Just start listening to the first 5 minutes and for sure you will be hooked and inspired by her simple and empathetic message. Other topics we discuss: 
    Improving your overall well-being based on Japanese conceptsBeing overweight OR underweight negatively effects mental healthWhy eating healthy in the US is a challenge whereas its pretty simple in JapanThe power of balanced meals, moderation, and portion managementHow retired sumo wrestlers lose weightWhat Japanese can learn from the US about healthy livingWhy ginger is included with so many Japanese mealsFood is closely linked to environment, experiences, and emotionsIs "organic" really healthier?Variety, and why this is nutritionally important  How much can one make writing for Medium?The Free Unsolicited Business IdeaKaki's two favorite untranslatable Japanese wordsKaki's Website: https://kakikata.space/

    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: https://www.nowandzen.jp/

    Grow website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life
    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 45 min
    Anthony Griffin: Global Communications Entrepreneur

    Anthony Griffin: Global Communications Entrepreneur

    It's a real feel-good conversation with uber positive and incredibly humble entrepreneur Anthony Griffin.  He is the founder of Saga Consulting where he "helps organizations and individuals tell their story to the world".  It's global communications through excellent copy-writing, digital marketing, and cross-cultural coaching.   Anthony often writes insightful and though-provoking articles for Kokoro Media on LinkedIn. He is especially passionate about Japanese language learning and frequently offers tips on how to take ones Japanese to the next level.  We both offer our three suggestions for basic but "culturally impactful" Japanese words every beginner of Japanese language should master. Other topics we discuss:
    New client acquisition techniques for entrepreneursHow Saga Consulting helps Japanese organizations expand internationallyBiggest stumbling blocks for Japanese companies when trying to expand overseasBalancing "trying to do it the Japanese way" vs. keeping his own personal styleWorking with "Foreign Curious" companies is his sweet spot, explainedWhat working for a Japanese company taught him  Early cultural missteps from Japanese corporate lifeBest Japanese language Apps for quick learningSimple language tips for building better relations in your communityFavorite untranslatable Japanese wordSwap culturally unique Japanese words beginners should master Anthony Griffin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonygriffin/
    Saga Consulting: http://www.consultsaga.com
    Kokoro Media: https://kokoro-jp.com/
    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: https://www.nowandzen.jp/

    Grow website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life
    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 44 min
    Don Bunkenburg: Taking the Lufthansa Group in Japan to new heights

    Don Bunkenburg: Taking the Lufthansa Group in Japan to new heights

    We all miss traveling, and this episode I get to speak with long-time, airline professional, Don Bunkenburg.  Don is the Senior Director in Japan for the Lufthansa Group. Which includes Swiss Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Germany's Lufthansa. We talk about how Lufthansa competes in the Japan market renowned for its level of service and hospitality, the "No risk culture" similarities between Germany and Japan,  how each airline in the group tailors their service offering to reflect the culture of each country, the steps required to actually fill up an airplane day after day, how Lufthansa changed from a process driven service delivery to a personalized service offering to earn the only European airline ranking of "5 Star" airline, and why the definition of "On Time Departure" is a little more important in Japan than some "other" countries. Other topics of discussion:
    How Don, an American, deciding to take a Summer job to improve his German, led to a 30 years plus career working for Germany's largest airlineDo Airline rankings really matter and how this relates to customer service investmentsWhat is "Swissness"The unique service differentiation between Austrian, Swiss, and LufthansaHis regret regarding a different, missed opportunity in the aviation industryHow the special relationship shared with ANA gives Lufthansa a big advantageThe biggest challenge of working in JapanSafety 1st vs. Service 1st. Do Western airlines and Asian Airlines perceive this differentlyLufthansa's response to the COVID PandemicWhy Brazilians make up a significant % of travelers between Japan and GermanyThe Free Unsolicited Business IdeaMore Now and Zen Japan episodes: https://www.nowandzen.jp/

    Grow website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life
    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 41 min
    Frank Foley: Japan's "Next Big Thing"

    Frank Foley: Japan's "Next Big Thing"

    Frank Foley is a charismatic 30-year Japan professional with a deep understanding of character licensing,  content marketing, and IP management. He was the country manager for Guinness World Records Japan where he successfully shifted the business model from wacky and crazy to a more Japan focused local strategy. Even participating in the record-setting worlds largest beef skewer event. Frank has represented IP entertainment brands from the Rolling Stones and Ariana Grande to children's educational brands including Thomas the Train. Frank is currently the owner of Next Big Thing which is actually the name of one of two TV shows he is pitching to Japanese networks. You will hear about both shows in this episode.
    Other topics of discussion:
    Corporate world record-setting success stories"You Gotta Hear This" the untapped Japanese pop music opportunityThe benefits of Thomas the Train toilet paperDifferences between representing music artist IP brands  vs. fictional IP brandsJapan Initiatives to differentiate and localize for foreign brandsThe length of Ishigaki's world record setting beef skewerHow one gets into the Guinness World RecordsCulture as an USP - What keeps him optimistic about Japan's futureWhy Japan is a good "testing ground" for foreign product innovationThe next big thing for Next Big Thing Frank Foley:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/frankfoleyjapan/

    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: https://www.nowandzen.jp/

    Grow website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life
    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 42 min
    Robert Whiting Part 2: "Tokyo Junkie" Baseball Stories and more

    Robert Whiting Part 2: "Tokyo Junkie" Baseball Stories and more

    Part 2 of my interview with author Robert Whiting about his recent best selling memoir "Tokyo Junkie" 60 years of bright lights, back alleys, and baseball. In this episode, Bob tells great stories about colorful foreign players and well-known Japanese baseball stars. Part 2, we talk mostly about the baseball stories from his memoir, but also get into the important story of how writing his first book "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat" completely changed his life. Together with episode #1 this is another important and rare opportunity to hear the history and evolution of Tokyo, from one Olympics in 1964 to the the current Tokyo 2020 games as lived and experienced by a true story teller, Robert Whiting. Other topics we discuss:
    The real reason Nomo went to the US to play for the DodgersNY Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui's adult video collection storyBeing interviewed by  Larry KingReminiscing the time spent with Sadaharu OhThe Yomiuri Giants 10 Commandments for foreign ball playersHow the export of Japanese players to the Major League has changed Japanese baseball Why there are fewer gaijin cultural transgressions these daysThe backstory behind a keepsake he received from a fan . . .  and former US PresidentWhy gaijin "used" to get an expanded strike zoneBob's favorite untranslatable Japanese wordRobert's Books (Tokyo Junkie): https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Whiting/
    Robert Whiting: https://tokyojunkie.com/

    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: https://www.nowandzen.jp/

    Grow your website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life
    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 35 min
    Robert Whiting: "Tokyo Junkie" 60 Years of Bright Lights, Back Alleys, and Baseball - Part 1

    Robert Whiting: "Tokyo Junkie" 60 Years of Bright Lights, Back Alleys, and Baseball - Part 1

    I have been a big fan of Robert Whiting ever since I read "Chrysanthemum and the Bat" back in high school in the 1980's. Numerous, critically acclaimed books later, I sit down with Bob to discuss his latest book, a memoir, "Tokyo Junkie" 60 Years of Bright Lights and Back Alleys . . . and baseball.   We discuss his firsthand insights into six decades of entertaining, dangerous, bizarre, and heartfelt experiences sandwiched between the 1st Olympics in 1962 to the current 2021 games. This is part 1 of a 2 part podcast interview. This episode covers the "Bright Lights and Back Alleys" of Tokyo Junkie with the 2nd episode covering "Baseball" and more.  This is a rare, oral history of raw and underground Tokyo told by the person who lived it, from Soldier to Degenerate to The Professional to The Rojin - Robert Whiting. Other topics we cover:
    What it's like to have your life threatened by the Yakuza (twice)Why writing a Memoir was a "painful" processThe big break which changed his lifeBefriending gangsters and its repercussionsBack stories of mafia and politicsWhat led to the writing of his 1st bookAfter 60 years in Japan what he misses most about the "good old days"News of his next book, a sequel to "Tokyo Underworld" Most "Gratifying" professional achievement Interview tips for a certain podcaster ;-) Robert's Books (Tokyo Junkie): https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Whiting/
    Robert Whiting: https://tokyojunkie.com/

    More Now and Zen Japan episodes: https://www.nowandzen.jp/

    Grow your website traffic = Zo Digital: https://www.zodigital.jp/
    Great Sleep Starts Here = gugu Sleep Company: https://gugu.jp
    Japan Adventures via Camper Van = Dream Drive: https://www.dreamdrive.life
    Use the code word "ZEN" to receive discounts

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

kasiamich ,

Insightful questions and very interesting!

I’m really enjoying the podcasts: intriguing guests, deep dives into fascinating topics, and overall a lot of fun. Can’t wait to get more!

Atami Tim ,

My new go-to podcast

Andrew, you are a great interviewer because you prepare, ask great questions, have interesting guests, and the perfect “voice for radio.” (As opposed to me, someone with a “face for radio”.). I look forward to your next podcast. ;)

DanKnowsJapan ,

Great job filling an underserved niche

I learned about the podcast through a post in a JET Program alumni productivity challenge I'm running during Covid. Here is the description that the JET wrote: "I'm a big fan already - def recommend! Fairly new as it launched January of this year. They literally sit in izakayas and do the podcasts in different places around Tokyo, though mostly around Daikonyama." That sold me.

The sounds in the background give the show an "Anthony Bourdain" vibe. As someone interested in Japanese entrepreneurship and non-Japanese who have done exciting things in Japan, the podcast overflows with useful, interesting stories and information. Well done, Andrew!

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