TOPCommunityVoice of Tokyo #3: TW Checks In With The City’s Trendsetters

Voice of Tokyo #3: TW Checks In With The City’s Trendsetters

A snapshot of the city's creative heartbeat

By Zoria Petkoska

The humans of Tokyo make this metropolis pulse with energy. In Voice of Tokyo 3, Tokyo Weekender checks in with four of the many Tokyo voices that make the cacophony a symphony.

Jessica Gerrity, Kyudo Archer, TV Talent, Cultural Ambassador

This Kiwi has called Japan home for 19 years. In that time she has become a friendly face on TV, a soothing voice while working on narration, a martial artist and a Saitama Prefecture Tourism ambassador, among many other things.

What’s your newest obsession?

I’ve been learning kyudo, the Japanese martial art of archery for four years now. Recently, I’ve also started learning sports yabusame, a type of horseback archery that doesn’t involve a ritual aspect. I love it and hope to do it for years to come.

What’s the most unexpected aspect in life that Japanese martial arts have helped you with?

I have three children and my youngest was born with both intellectual and physical disabilities. When work and practice are added into this mix it makes for quite a busy life. Learning martial arts, especially kyudo has given me ikigai, or in other words, balance in my life. Kyudo is very calm, quiet and introspective.

What’s your favorite Japanese word?

I have a couple of favorite phrases instead. “Nana korobi ya oki.” This means “fall over seven times, get up eight,” so basically “never give up.” Then there’s “Junin toiro,” which means “10 colors, 10 people.” In other words, “everyone’s different.”

Hiro Kano, Origami Master & Digital Marketer

Carving his own path in life, Hiro Kano has had a very unorthodox school and work life in Japan. After being home-schooled, he had several different jobs before becoming an SEO specialist at a digital marketing agency in Tokyo. He also excels at something very Japanese — he’s an award-winning origami maker.

What’s your newest obsession?

Specialty coffee. After doing a project with an award-winning coffee shop, I’m now making and drinking coffee daily and trying different types. I learn about roasting, origin, brewing — all in order to find the perfect cup of coffee for me.

What’s the origami shape you can make that you love bragging about?

A dragon that can be folded from a single square sheet of paper without any cuts or glue. I know many variations of it, some can be folded in just 5-10 minutes, while others take nine hours.

Why is Tokyo so international?

With a population of over 30 million, it’s a place full of weird and wonderful people of all kinds. That forms a great foundation that can accept anyone, regardless of who they are and where they’re from.

Tell us a Tokyo secret!

Get on a bicycle. If you don’t have one, rent one and venture away from the big stations and into the small streets. That’s how I’ve found some of my favorite spots and nicest cafés. Factory & Labo Kanno Coffee in Meguro is my newest favorite.

Photo by Satoru Tada

Vaughan Allison, Coffee Personality, Music Promoter, Model

Having lived in Japan for two decades, Vaughan Allison is an Australian turned Tokyoite with deep roots. He is best known for his music promotion work, modeling and writing about coffee. In 2020, he co-founded the popular Mia Mia coffee shop in Higashi-Nagasaki with his wife, architect Rie Allison.

What’s your newest obsession?

Talking! I talk to elderly people waiting for the bus, students who are unsure what to do after university, people who look a bit sad, famous people, the assistants of famous people, people sitting next to me at a kissaten. And of course, to almost everyone who comes to my coffee shop.

When not in Mia Mia, where do you go for a great cup of coffee?

Koffee Mameya Kakeru has to be the best coffee shop in the world. And I wish that I owned Chatei Hatou, Kayaba Coffee, Coffeehouse Nishiya, Lou and all the Blue Bottle shops. So much respect for these places.

You’re known as a connector of worlds: coffee, fashion, music and more. What is the common denominator of your passions?

It’s all about the people. Everyone does something, in some way, for some reason. And it’s funny how we all learn, get in- spired from each other and grow.

Tokyo is one of the most fashionable cities in the world. What’s your favorite item of clothing to wear?

A vintage Vivienne Westwood denim jacket, which actually belonged to my wife’s mother. It makes everyone smile!

Nina Cataldo, Multicultural Communications Specialist & Consultant

Nina Cataldo has a penchant for bringing people together. She’s the founder of Hafu Ladies, a community for mixed-race and mixed-culture women with Japanese roots. She is also the co-founder of Brave & Bold Mastermind, a business accelerator program for Asian women entrepreneurs. On top of all that, she co-founded Live Labo Scenes, an online livestream music channel.

What’s your newest obsession?

My new coaching and mentorship projects. I’ve recently started the Hafu Ladies Soul Circle group coaching program and will be releasing a mentorship program for younger mixed-race Japanese girls in 2022.

What makes Tokyo feel like home?

Knowing that no matter what time I’m out on the streets, there’s always something going on. People-watching reminds me that the city is alive and there are so many interesting people who live here, all with stories of their own.

If you were to choose only one sound to represent Tokyo, what would it be?

The platform music at the train stations. I love hearing new ones when I get off at stations I’ve never visited before. My favorite is the tune of my home station Ebisu.

What’s a perfect Tokyo day for you?

Starting with an early morning temple visit before it gets busy, followed by a picnic and people-watching in Yoyogi Park. Then getting lost at night at one of the many little yokocho bars, go to a DJ set after and end with a bowl of late-night ramen.


Read the previous installments of TW’s Voice of Tokyo:

Voice of Tokyo #1
Voice of Tokyo #2