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Memories of my Professional Life
 Michael K. Yamaoka 

. . .

During my college life at Waseda, in Tokyo, Japan, I belonged to an extracurricular club called Study of Design.  I was tremendously influenced by an upperclassman who was a member of the club, Mr. Motoo Nakanishi, (who later became a pioneer of corporate identity development in Japan and was a tremendous influence on young designers—myself among them—and who, 40 years ago, began a campaign to create a design department at Waseda.   Today, I’m very pleased to hear, his dream is finally about to come true.) Mr. Mamoru Murata, the creator of the design club, is now president of the Japanese advertising agency Ad Engineer. Mr. Takuo Hirano, who was a consultant to our design club, was sent to Art Center College of Design by JETRO, and became a leading industrial designer in Japan. Because of the influence of these three, I made the decision to study abroad. At Art Center College of Design, (then in Los Angeles, California, now in Pasadena) I majored in advertising photography, where I was the first Japanese student to graduate from that department.  The next semester I waited for my wife Audrey to graduate from the department—she was the second Japanese student to receive a diploma. 

Then we said goodbye to Los Angeles and came to NY.  On the way, we stopped at Michael and Geri Day’s house and also visited John Krawczyk—classmates and good friends from Art Center.  Michael Day, who has since died, had a studio in Detroit.  John and I started at the same time at Art Center, but John was already an accomplished photographer. He had been a Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, on the famous submarine Nautilus, and was part of the first expedition team that went to the North Pole.  National Geographic asked him to shoot that trip for the magazine—they were beautiful pictures.

LA had been warm and peaceful, but as soon as we arrived in NY (in the middle of winter!) we started looking for jobs.  I was told by my college professors that the easiest way to begin in NY was by "apprenticing as an assistant to someone famous".  So every day I made appointments with famous photographers, and went on interviews.

One of the things I remember most from that time was seeing Richard Avedon's studio.  My school had given me a letter of introduction to his famous studio manager, and during my interview he told me, "we'll hire you, but you'll be the #6 assistant at a weekly salary of $65.  You better show up at the studio every morning at 8:30."  I was kind of surprised because even then, regular assistants made an average of $100 per week, so I turned the offer down nicely.  As I left, I could hear the studio manager murmur under his breath "there are a lot of people who would accept this job at no pay, that's how eager they are to be Avedon's assistant!"

I finally accepted a job as assistant to Herbert Loebel, who specialized in aerial and underwater photography, photo micrography, and both medical and industrial photography. So my NY life began.  Audrey had already gotten a job as a staff photographer for Osborn Charles, a major graphic design studio,  and we started work while living in an empty apartment in Flushing, Queens.  Herbert Loebel was an interesting man—not only was he best friends with Ernst Haas, of the famous Magnum Photos, (a photographer for whom I had the utmost respect) but he was also a survivor of Auschwitz during WWII, and he had a tattoo on his arm as a result.  Because of that experience he didn't like narrow spaces, he hated the black focusing cloth used on the big format cameras of the time, he hated being crowded in the subway—I was amazed that he had become a successful photographer in NYC.

When a photo assignment came, many times he let his assistant—me—do it.  On the weekends I shot many an assignment for him.  In return, he sent me and my wife (who became my assistant) to dinner at expensive restaurants nearby, which we enjoyed a lot!  Then on Monday morning, he'd bring the pictures that we took to the client.  I worked for him for about 5 1/2 months.  One of my most vivid memories was going to shoot a communications dish in the Mojave Desert.  The layout called for a full moon superimposed on the dish.  The engineer at the Apollo station told us that 2AM would be the best time to shoot, so we stayed out in the cold in the middle of the night to get the shot.  It was a wonderful memory.  Soon, however, I started to feel my work as an assistant had pushed me to the wall, and I wasn't enjoying it any more. I wanted to move forward.

I happened to see an ad in the NY Times for a major advertising agency which was looking for a staff photographer. It was BBD&O, the third largest agency in the world at the time.  So I went to see the agent, who told me that 65 people had already applied.  I really wanted this job—it fit my plan for the future.  I made the appointment, and luckily, 3 days later I was notified that I'd been hired.  You can't imagine how great I felt!

So began my everyday life as a staff photographer for BBD&O. My studio was on the 13th floor of the Communication Design Center on Madison Avenue—the famous street in NY where many first-class ad agencies were located.  I had an assistant, a secretary, an entire color laboratory and a lab technician who reported to me.  I really kicked my butt and worked very hard.  In those days BBD&O billed 350 million dollars annually, and had a ton of Fortune 500 clients, and I thoroughly enjoyed every day working for them.  I couldn't wait for Monday morning every week.  My job not only involved advertising photography, but also sales promotions, brochures, packaging and slide presentations.  The subjects ranged from food to hardware, fashion, and cosmetics.  I learned a great deal at this job, and I also met many different ad agency people such as art directors, copy writers, account executives, film producers and even the clients. All this turned out to be a real bonus for my future plans of opening my own studio. I especially learned a lot from the creative art direction of Lou Figliola, and I also worked with the art directors Ted Gatter, Rudi Valentini, Randy Stover, and Bob O’Conell, and the copywriters Bob Murphy, and Aubrey Baratz.

Back then, Campbell's had just developed a new soup called Chunky Soup.  I took photos for all 6 different labels. It was very precise work—there was a certain ratio of carrots, meat and potatoes that had to be shown in each spoonful, and at the shoot the account executive was present as well as the art director, and the lawyers who had to approve and clear each shot. I have great memories, and I still get a good feeling whenever I'm in the supermarket—they're still using my photos on the labels of Hormel Roast Beef and Corned Beef hash.

When Burger King opened the first chain store in suburban Boston, I took the advertising pictures for them.   We hired 100 extras and began to shoot after they closed the store, starting at 1 AM and finishing up at 6 in the morning.  Burger King is now one of the biggest fast food chains, but back then there were only a few stores.

During this period I did an interesting job for GE—they were producing a series of vocational booklets which introduced many different careers for graduating high school seniors, and I shot many on-the-job pictures of various industries. I had to go to the World Trade Center to shoot the architects, the construction foreman, the electricians, and plumbers. I shot pictures from the top floors while they were still only open beams, and while I was shooting, the entire structure was moving! Ever since I first photographed the beautiful WTC buildings, whenever I had the chance I shot them again from different angles.  I've never had such anger and sad feelings as I did after September 11, 2001—I haven't been able to go near the location since then.

Right after I started at BBD&O, my younger brother, Kageaki, who graduated from the Tokyo Merchant Marine Academy, and was at that time the second officer at K Line, docked at Brooklyn Harbor in a ship called Kunikawa Maru.  He stayed overnight at our apartment and the next day we went to see him off at the pier.  I was very impressed that my brother had maneuvered such a huge ship without mishap, and I was so proud of him it brought tears to my eyes.  Every time he came to visit the East Coast he brought lots of souvenirs from Japan, and we always took our kids to visit the ship—what a joy for my family to see him!  He retired from navigation with the rank of captain, and now he’s the harbor captain at the port of Yokohama.

My family in Japan also included my elder sisters Mami and Keri. While I was still at BBD&O, Mami, (who is now deceased) moved to Koki publishing after many years at Gakken, a very prestigious Japanese educational publishing company, and she introduced me to Mr. Takeshi Sadamura, and Mr. Masaaki Nakajo.  They gave me some very interesting projects to shoot for them as a freelancer, such as the cover for the album "Travel in Pops/Popular Songs and Travel in the United States". They also asked me to prepare a few hundred photos for the English and American Edition of the Gakken Visual Area Encyclopedia. This included shots of cultural institutions, architecture, famous locations, family life, etc. Ever since then, whenever I go to Japan, I make a point to see those two individuals and try to spend an evening with them.  Mr. Sadamura is now very active in the fields of computer graphics and audio-visual communications, including motion pictures. Mr. Nakajo moved to Kumon publishing where he had great success, becoming president of the company. He is now consulting with a subsidiary of Kumon, in the area of children’s education, for which he travels all over the world.  They both have great vision, and I pay them a lot of respect.

A few years ago, my elder sister Keri lost her beloved husband of many years through a tragic accident, and for the past few years, she’s started traveling abroad in order to cope with her sadness and loneliness.  Keri attended both our daughters’ weddings, and she also came to Germany for the opening of my show in Sulzbach-Rosenberg.  I really appreciate her.

After I’d been at BBD&O two years, my first assistant left, and I had to hire another one.  I quickly found Martha Pearson, who had a very interesting background. She speaks Russian fluently, plus a little Japanese, and has a wonderful sense of humor.  She has traveled to Japan, of course, and many countries in Europe, and therefore has a lot of topics of conversation.  Now she’s located in Monterey, near San Francisco, and is known as Martha Casanave.  She’s very busy, publishing books, teaching photography, and is an active, working artist/photographer.

I should also mention Nancy Robinson, Martha’s best friend who I met when she accompanied Martha to the interview.  Nancy is also a very interesting, extremely intelligent person and is the assistant to I.M. Pei, the famous architect. Many years later, when I was creating my book Odyssey, I was looking for someone who could contribute to the text, and Nancy introduced me to Dr. Janet Adams Strong, who is a professor of Architecture and Medieval Architectural History. She’s also the official biographer of the IM Pei firm, and while in the middle of her busy schedule preparing that manuscript, she contributed some wonderful text for my book.  Recently, Janet Adams Strong made time to come with her family to the opening of my first photography show in Germany. Everything started with Martha, my ex-assistant!

While I was still working at BBD&O, my mentor, Mr. Motoo Nakanishi and his assistants often came to visit my studio.  I introduced Mr. Nakanishi to Ray Yoshimura, the designer at Lippincott Margolis who specialized in corporate identity and packaging design.  I’m so proud that after my introduction the two collaborated on so many beautiful designs for worldwide products, especially for Japanese accounts. At that time, Mr. Nakanishi was in the process of writing a book called DECOMAS (Design Coordination as a Management Strategy), published by Sanseido, about corporate identity, and as he was researching NY at that time, he used to stop by my office every day.  Also during that period Noboru Watanabe (whose pen name in Japan is Anzai Mizumaru) worked for New York Dentsu, and he frequently came by with his wife, Masumi Kishida, to watch me work.
. . .

After 6 years at BBD&O, I made the momentous move of opening the Yamaoka Studio with Audrey on 31st Street, in Manhattan, and she and I worked hard every day.  My biggest challenge was to get clients.  I still clearly remember the day that I was shooting a cover for Audio Video magazine, a trade publication which was a division of Dempa Shimbun of Japan, and met Mike Ueda, the Editor in Chief.  He’s now a very successful music industry producer in Japan. Connected with my work for the magazine, I met Mr. Kawamura, the technical salesman from Toppan Printing, from whom I learned a lot about printing. During a 6-year period I shot over 72 covers for Audio Video magazine without missing a month!  Many times I came up with the idea for the cover, as well as shooting it.  I, myself, am amazed by how hard I worked!

Through Mike Ueda, I met many people in the home electronics industry.  Meeting his good friend Mr. Yuki Sato, President and CEO of a company called Cores Corporation, which did market research in Tokyo, London and NY, was one of my memorable encounters.  Mr. Sato gave me good advice for my future direction. Since then, his assistant Alex Natiku, who was the president of Cores, NY, has become a very close friend of me and my family.  Alex now owns an independent company called Smart Strategies, and he’s very busy traveling back and forth between NY, California and Japan researching the home electronics industry for clients. Also at this time I met the advertising manager for Panasonic, Mr. Toby Toyama, Ken Kai, the dynamic president of Pioneer, Sam Kusumoto, president of Minolta, Bill Kasuga, VP for Kenwood, Sam Tokuno, VP of Ricoh and many others.

Mr. Sato also introduced me to Mr. Kikuro Takagi, a special correspondent in NY for Yomiuri Shimbun. Before coming to NY he had been in the Middle East for many years.  He was very knowledgeable about affairs there, and published a book about it.  We exchanged ideas for stories on various occasions, and when I was asked by Carlos Foster, of Urban Cowboys, and a pioneer of the black rodeo to bring an American Rodeo to Asia and Russia, Mr. Takagi came to Florida to cover the rodeo, and wrote a big article for Yomiuri.  Later, when I lost my son and was at rock bottom, Mr. Takagi was back in Japan, but he contacted the NY office of Yomiuri, who published a special article about my son.  He had retired by the time I had my one-man show in the Ginza, but again, he made arrangements for publicity for me.  He now teaches at Waseda, and is one of the most respected people I met in NY.

Another friend from this period was Masaki Tachikawa, an internationally known journalist.  He has an interesting background—he was arrested in South Korea in 1974 as a political prisoner and was sentenced by a Korean military court to 20 years in prison, a sensational story at the time.  I was asked to accompany him to shoot for the Japanese weekly magazine Friday, and I photographed Misuzu Misato, who was a very well-known anchorwoman in Japan who happened to be studying in graduate school at Princeton.  I also shot Tony Kinoshita, who at the time was known in the restaurant business as second only to Rocky Aoki, the founder of Benihana.  We took photos of him at his disco in Atlanta, at that time the largest disco in the world, surrounded by a ton of beautiful women.

Kiyoshi Kanai, who worked for Lou Dorfsman of CBS fame, was another interesting person I met at that time.  He opened his own design office in midtown Manhattan, and asked me to shoot for Citibank.  Every time Citibank opened a new branch office in the NY area, I used to shoot atmospheric black and white shots for their brochures.

For several years in a row I shot calendars in the West Indies, Bahamas, and Puerto Rico which were distributed worldwide for Matsushita National Brands from Japan. I was shooting top models from NY in these beautiful locations—that was such a fun assignment!  It came to me through Mr. Yoh Jinno, of Dai Nippon printing company, NY., who also gave me the assignment to shoot a calendar about NY for Takasago Perfumery, which every year received an award of excellence from the printing industry. During that shoot, I was attacked on the Brooklyn Bridge by 5 thugs, who I fought off.  But I did my best for this assignment, and happily I received a Cleo award in 1983 for my calendar. In those days I shot all over Manhattan with my "assistant" Jerry Rotondi. Jerry is an unusual and interesting character.  He was an art director for Doyle Dane Bernbach, which was at the time a very well known and creative ad agency.  He did wonderful advertising for them, but one day he decided to quit the agency business to start a new career—working with me!

In 1980 the famous treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, (now deceased) had discovered a sunken Spanish ship, the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, sunk in 1622 off the Florida Coast, and had recovered a lot of treasure—which led to a lot of controversy.  When the Queens Museum mounted an exhibition sponsored by Chase Manhattan Bank and curated by Ms. Janet Schneider, I took the advertising pictures for Wells, Rich, Green, the ad agency. The poster was seen all over NY subways, buses and stations—a real thrill for a photographer.  We shot a knight dressed in 17th century costume, holding a poison cup. The cup, however, was really an anti-poison cup with a special device to hold a bezoar stone, which was believed to be able to neutralize poison.  This cup is now on permanent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, where I recently became re-acquainted with Ms. Schneider while writing my memoirs.

In the summer of 1982, there were huge anti-nuke rallies and demonstrations in NY. Shufu no Tomo, a publisher of women’s magazines, asked me to cover Ms. Jakucho Setouchi, one of Japan’s most popular writers, who eventually became a monk.  Together with the editor, plus Jakucho’s best friend, Takako Ohta, (the proprietress of Pusan, a very famous bar in Tokyo), and Mr. Tadao Fujimatsu of Japan Airlines, I had a great time shooting all over NY.  One memorable evening I clearly recall was visiting a well-known philosopher, Shusaku Aragawa, and his wife, Madeline H. Gins. I don’t remember exactly how this happened, but led by Ms. Setouchi, we wound up dancing awa odori, a very well known traditional dance from the Tokushima area in Shikoku, a dance as famous in Japan as the carnival is in Rio.  Ever since, when I go back to Japan, I’ve tried to visit Pusan.

Speaking of fond memories, I have to mention Beverly Cox, a home economist who studied at the Cordon Blue in Paris, and who I worked with on both her French cookbook and her exercise book.  She came from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and believe it or not, her family owns an 80,000 acre ranch there—the Eagle Rock Ranch.  During one of the big tourist booms, the family asked me to shoot the ranch for promotion purposes to invite hunters and vacationers to come out west to visit.  Besides this, one of my fondest memories is my relationship with the Book-of-the Month Club.  I worked with them for almost 8 years, shooting many different things with Ms. Janet Doyle, the creative director.  She later became my partner, as both an art director and in other kinds of businesses, which continues to this day.  Also at Book-of-the-Month Club I met Clare Vermont, Michael Moroney, Carmile Zaino and James Du, who have all helped me in many different ways over the years.

I had another long-term relationship with a textile company called Greenwood Mills.  Their ad agency was deGarmo, and my good friend Rudi Valentini was the art director and another good friend, Chris Gibbs was the account executive. We used to shoot fashion ads for the NY Times magazine.  Rudi was also an ex-BBD&Oer, and I worked with him for over 10 years on many different accounts.  Today, Rudi teaches graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Later, I worked with Chris on the Pitney-Bowes campaign, with Jerry Rotondi as the art director. Chris and I went to North Carolina to shoot a testimonial ad for the company. Poor Chris had a cast on his arm, because he'd been in a bar fight a few evenings before! I'll never forget the sight of Chris challenging some good ol' Southern boys to a game of pool with that cast on his arm--and he beat them! I thought for sure I'd get dragged into a fight...I felt a little strange, as Mr. DeGarmo’s daughter used to be my assistant at BBD&O. 
 . . .

By this time, I had been at BBD&O for over 6 years, and had had my own studio for 10 years.  I had 3 children who were rapidly growing and I decided to expand my work to include marketing and research as well as advertising and product development.

So, in 1985, on the 25th anniversary of the Tokyo/New York sister cities program, I worked for the Mayor's office under Mayor Koch, and along with Bob Malmad, a copywriter, created a program called "The Silver Bridge".  My job was to line up Japanese sponsors, and we raised over 1 million dollars.  As part of the program, we created a parade on 5th Avenue celebrating Bon Odori, arranged for Grand Sumo wrestling at Madison Square Garden and a Kabuki performance at Lincoln Center and also published an advertising supplement to the New York Sunday Times magazine.  I believe I made a big contribution in helping to right the unfavorable trade balance at the time, and in adding to an understanding of Japanese culture.  For all their help, I owe special thanks to Shin Soejima of Toppan Printing Company and Mr. Shinichiro Tora (since deceased) of Popular Photography magazine.

One of my fondest memories is of Mr. Osami Suzuki of Toshiba who invented a very unique product—The TOSBAX/Sonic Jacket.  I helped create this jacket, along with Rudy Valentini's wife, Didi, who drafted the pattern. The jacket had 8 pockets, containing a CD player, radio/cassette player, 4 speakers, a power amplifier and battery pack.  The units were all connected within the jacket, and weren't visible on the outside, so people couldn’t tell where the sound was coming from.  The person wearing the jacket could feel the sound throughout their body—great for outdoor activities.  The jacket was manufactured in Hong Kong—and I was also responsible for quality control, which meant I had to go to Hong Kong 8 times!  Also at Toshiba, I met Osami Suzuki’s superior, Mr. Kanazawa, who happened to be a bridge Grandmaster in Manhattan.  We created a multimedia show for him for a Toshiba sales convention that was held in Dallas—we stayed late many nights working on the show over a period of several months.

In the mid 80s I partnered with Glenn Hersch, who had been an account executive for many years at Doyle, Dane, Bernbach. Alpine Luxman was a company that manufactured high quality home and car stereo systems, and we were hired as their PR agency.  The president of the company, Tom Ohki, was a real veteran in the industry.  Back then, the digital boom had just begun, and tubes were out—but I couldn’t even tell the difference in the sound, it was that good! We also worked on several brochures and catalogs for the parts division of Alfa Romeo, and we had lots of fun.  We wound up going on a location shoot to sunny California—but we also had to shoot for them on location on the frozen Hudson River!

Here I have to mention CES, the famous Consumer Electronics Show, which used to be held twice a year in Las Vegas and Chicago.  Vendors from all over the world came to present their new products—it was a huge event.  I used to attend every year, and I would see many of my clients. Now, they have cut back to holding the show only once a year.

One of my most impressive clients was a store called King Fook, a very prestigious jeweler from Hong Kong, who opened a store in one of the poshest locations on Fifth Avenue.  Miss Julia Wang was the advertising manager, and every week for over a year and a half, I took black and white advertising photos for placement in the NY Times, and color shots for catalogs and seasonal brochures.  I shot the most expensive jewelry and I learned a lot about it in the process.

Another good memory is of meeting Shigetaka Kobayashi of International Telecom Japan (now Nippon Telecom.)  I was introduced to Mr. Kobayashi by Mr. Takahiko Maki of MCI, who was aggressively looking to sign up Japanese companies as users.  One of the projects my partner Janet Doyle and I created for ITJ was a trade show booth.  Every year trade shows were held in LA, Atlanta, and New Orleans where all the international telecom companies gathered, and our business was to show ITJ as a world-class telecom company.  It was a very, very big responsibility. Working with ITJ, I also met and became friends with Mr. Kobayashi's assistant, Leslie Silver, who was a big help to him because of her ability to speak Japanese.  She was a huge asset to the company, and assisted him on many projects that would have been too big for him to handle alone. She is no longer with the company, but we still stay in touch. I also did business with NTT, another big Japanese telecom company, who were looking to expand into technology transfer and international procurement. We created a brochure for them to help promote this campaign.

Mr. Kaga of ATT was another person I met in the telecommunications business, and we worked together when Book-of-the Month Club was exploring the possibility of doing business in Japan.  I also met Ted Otsuka, of IDC, a competitor of ITJ, Mr. Kunimoto of Telecomet, and a wonderful golfer, Mr. Namba of KDD.  I must also mention Dr. Kuroda, with whom I never did business, but who was a great occasional drinking companion. One day at the office he suffered a subarachnoid hemmorage and he died at a young age—a very sad memory for me.

Again, I worked with Janet Doyle as a designer, and Bob Malmad as a copy writer, to create a corporate capabilities brochure for Itochu, one of Japan's largest general trading companies.  The brochure opened by depicting the history of Itochu as a "Yankee Trader." in the U.S.  It was full of color photography and required the highest quality level of printing.  Itochu asked us to use their printer, which meant we had to make many trips to Chicago in the middle of a freezing cold winter for press OKs.  As a result, we didn’t give an inch to the printer, but we wound up finally being satisfied with the end result.

Besides this interesting work, I tried to bring US and Japanese companies together to exchange either products or technologies. Amazon.com was just in its infancy at the time, but Book-of-the-Month Club wanted to introduce themselves to the Japanese market, and we started market research to do that.  We did a test mailing to Japan, which had a tremendous response.  I was very pleased with the result, and the book club then created a much larger mailing.  BOMC eventually introduced the book club concept to other Asian and European countries.  I also suggested that BOMC contribute in some way to earthquake-damaged Kobe, and as a result I became the bridge for their contribution of 1000 volumes to the municipal public library in Kobe.

After that, Kathy Gallagher at National Geographic Magazine asked me to help market the English language version of the magazine to Japan, although the Japanese version was already available in Japan.I did research and created a direct mail piece for them, but unfortunately, the result was not as good as BOMC’s.

I didn't deal only with publishing, telecommunications and cultural events, however.  Acme Gears, a company that produces high speed precision gears in NJ, wanted to extend their business to Japan and China.  I worked with the president, Joe Gelles on the presentation, and we visited various areas of Japan as well as some cities in China—Shanghai, Nanjing, and Beijing.  It was a fun trip.  In Japan, I asked Yuki Suzuki and Shuji Itami who worked for the general trading company, Shinyei, in Kobe, to help.  I had met them both when they worked in the NY office of Shinyei. Now, Mr. Suzuki in Kobe, and Mr. Itami in Nagoya each have their own businesses, and I try to visit these precious friends to go out drinking whenever I visit Japan.

Travel led to other opportunities too.  When my children were still babies, every year in spring or summer, I visited my wife Audrey’s hometown, Kainan-shi, Wakayama, and Tokyo where my sisters lived, so that my children would learn about their roots. Also, they loved to see Audrey's’ grandparents and cousins and had a great time wherever they went.However, even though Audrey’s grandparents helped us, the cost for 5 people to travel to Japan was a tremendous expense, so we were always looking for the cheapest flights.

Then, we came across the company called Japan Budget Travel!  Nowadays it’s common to find cheap tickets to Japan, but back then JBT made an unbelievably low price for us, and at that time they incurred a lot of bad feeling from other travel agencies in NY. The president of this revolutionary company that initiated the price wars was George Kay, who has since became a great friend.  Several times he invited me as a Japanese businessman on a golf tour—and one of the most memorable was a jaunt to Ireland on Aer Lingus, under the auspices of the Irish Tourist Board and Aer Lingus.  I also went on a similar tour of London with George—both fun trips.

Several years later, through connections that Janet Doyle had with an advertising agency who handled TAP and the Portuguese Tourist Office, I organized a golf trip to the Azores and Estoril, Portugal.  I brought many Japanese business people, and it was one of the most memorable and eye-opening trips of my life.  It made a tremendous impact on me as a photographer and someone interested in history—every day there was something I’d never experienced before—the delicious food, the natural phenomena, the beauty of the golf courses, the incredible surroundings.  So, several years after the first trip, we organized another, to repeat the experience for a different group of people.  Everyone was thrilled with the trip, and many are still talking about it.
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© 2010 Michael K. Yamaoka