Revenge of the Gomi (Garbage) Nazi

(this article first appeared in the june 21, 2004 issue of newsweek international)

In Tokyo, we live in fear of getting caught putting out gomi, or garbage, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. And the scariest thing about gomi is the ladies -- usually older and very proper -- who police the rules.

Officially, these are simple: you must separate burnable gomi (household paper, kitchen garbage) from unburnable (plastics)and recyclables (glass, cans, newspaper, boxes). Each must be set out on specified days of the week at a designated spot, where city garbage rucks can collect it. Sound easy? I used to think so too.

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Art Island: The new Chichu Art Museum

(this article first appeared in the july 19, 2004 issue of newsweek international)

A Japanese tycoon opens a new museum to share his dazzling private collection. Just don't miss the boat.

Newsweek InternationalJuly 19 issue - Soichiro Fukutake was strolling through a Claude Monet exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts when he arrived at a large, never-before-exhibited two-panel canvas of waterlilies. He was mesmerized. A little plaque on the wall indicated that the painting was on loan from a Paris gallery. Great news, he thought; the piece wasn't confined to a permanent museum collection. That was in 1998. Today "Water-Lily Pond" (1915-26) hangs in Fukutake's Chichu Art Museum, opening this Sunday on the picturesque island of Naoshima in western Japan. "The painting was begging me to take it with me," deadpans Fukutake, chairman and CEO of Benesse Corp., a Japanese education-services empire. "What else could I do?"

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