Saturday, February 23, 2013

I So Love Shimonoseki!

Speech given on Feb 20, 2013 at Tokyu Hotel cafe lounge
"Live a pleasant life in the unpleasant world!" This is a famous quote of Shinsaku Takasugi, Choshu Clan Samurai, perhaps your hero, who played a pivotal role in the pre-Meiji Restoration. He passed away young before his dream came true; however, his strategy of organizing militia and his visionary leadership should well be long remembered.

Ladies and gentlemen and guests, I'm honored to speak today for Shimonoseki Toastmasters in the making. Shimonoseki is my favorite city where I'm always hoping to return. My sister-in-law invited my wife and me to live in Kitakyushu upon our return to Japan from the U.S. The first place she drove us to was Tsunoshima Resort, a beautiful cobalt blue ocean view and sand beach and a bridge to the island. The scenery is comparable to the 7-mile Bridge, Key Largo, Florida. I was so impressed that I have taken American guests there, also my son from New York and my granddaughter from California.

Representing Kitakyushu Toastmasters, I was fortunate to meet today's Chair TM Miyake. She visited with me at Kozanji, Mohri Palatial Residence, Nogi-jinja, etc. in Chofu. I had a chance later to visit Akama Shrine, Shunpanro, Yume-Tower, and Karato. Oh, I so love Shimonoseki!

Thank you for coming today to join us in our noble venture, and I know you are anxious to know what Toastmasters is all about. First and foremost, Toastmasters is a non-profit organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of improving English communication and leadership. Founded by Dr. Ralph Smedley in California, it covers over 110 countries and accommodates a quarter million members. The greater San Diego District, where I used to work, had a population of 3 million and had about 150 clubs when I left. In other words, 50 clubs per million there. Upon my return in 1995, I found clubs in Japan narrowly reached 60.

Kyushu had only one club, in Fukuoka, right after the war, started by a GARIOA scholarship student who came back from the U.S. It is one of the oldest clubs in Japan. Fukuoka, therefore, had a few Kitakyushu members who commuted twice a month by train. They were so happy to join the newly formed club in Kitakyushu. It was in 1997, over 15 years ago. Now the time has come for Shimonoseki to claim the same exciting beginning.

New members will learn tonight, through well established protocols - the one minute self-introduction and the two-to-three-minute response to table topics question. Then, after you are inducted as a member, you must give a formal 6-minute speech. You will then be evaluated by your friendly fellow members and the mentor in charge for improvement. Friends help friends practice in a warm accepting atmosphere. You will advance step by step following the Toastmasters Manual, the treasures of this century old wisdom to success. The project manual covers speech organization, vocal variety, language, gestures, humor, persuasion, etc.

I'm sure each of you has made your New Year's resolution in January to brush up and expand your English communication this year. It's never too late to empower yourself by way of joining the Shimonoseki Toastmasters as founding members. Seize this opportunity and realize your dream! It is better late than never. Welcome to an exciting adventure.

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