Why did I start the Nippon-Go.tokyo?
As a high school student, born and raised in Japan, everything I saw on the first trip to America was new and exciting.
During my college years, I was lucky enough to attend an American football summer training camp in New Jersey.
At twenty years old, I participated the camp as a representative of Japan, wearing a t-shirt with the Japanese flag and Ichiban(number one) written in Kanji characters.
At the end of first day of practice, I was appoached by another player, who asked me what was written on my shirt.
I told him, it meant number one, in Japanese.
Imagine my surprise when he shouted, I want one too!!! I happily gave him my shirt, but words soon spread, and I was again approached by other players who were interested in my Kanji shirt.
I only brought a limited amount of shirt for practice, so instead of giving them away, I traded my shifts for other players team shirts.
Before I knew it, I longer had any Kanji shirts to trade with.
After the next practice, more players came and asked to exchange the shirt, but I no longer had any to trade with. Hearing this, they instead, asked me to write in Japanese on their white shirt.
So every night after that, players came into my room with a white shirt.
I translated in Japanese whatever message they wanted, into Japanese.
For fast player, hayato(quick) or kamikaze(god wind).
For bigger stronger player , gouriki(strength) or benkei(warrior).
Others even asked me to writre on their body like a kanjo tattoo.
I could'nt understand why they were so fascinated by normal kanji writing.
Since that summer camp, its been twenty years, and I am now running a sports management company.
With the support of athletics overseas, I've had many opportunities to work in varieties of countries.
Everywhere I go, I've encountered people wearing Kanji shirts or sproting Kanji tattoo.
Japanese writing is still considerd of cool aspect in many parts of the world.
In the same way, Japanses people often wear shirts with english phrases that they don't understand, which suprises many visitiors to Japan.
Seeing the popularity of Kanji character, I remembered how I could'nt understand the appeal of Kanji for my fellow players at summer camp.
But everything in America struck me as amazing and new.
Truthfully, I still feel that way today.
Every time I go oversea and experience different culture, new food or unseen sights, I found myself getting excited in the same way.
Now in my forties, in rethinking my attitude towards my own culture and the places in the world.
As I rethink my perspective on my Japanese culture, I'm noticing many things I didn't see before.
Japan has a very unique culture.
One part of this unique culture is the language itself: Japanses language and the Kanji charactes, which is used to write it.
Each Kanji conveys a profound meaning, and I want to share this cultural touchstone.
With this vision I started, Nippon-Go Tokyo.
Our first step is to sell kanji shirts, to further spread the meaning behind these peaces of Japanese culture.
Down the line, I want to give people the ability to make thier own original shirt or sweater, with words of their choosing, just like I did at summer camp.
Of course, we will translate into Kanji, so you don't have to worry about that!