Women Entrepreneurs and Empowerment in Japan — Presentation at National Taiwan University (NTU)

In late November 2018, I had the great fortune to participate in a cross-cultural exchange with students from National Taiwan University (NTU) — the best university in Taiwan. During an entire Sunday morning and afternoon, we had around 12 Kyoto University students present about their various research topics, as well as around 6 NTU students present about their own research and points of interest. And of course, I presented on my favorite topic of all time — women entrepreneurs and empowerment in Japan.

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A Home Away From Home — Guest House Hachi In Kyoto

When I visited back in June of this year prior to their official launch in August 2017, I was fortunate enough to receive a sneak preview from one of the owners — Takuji — an extremely warm, friendly, and open-minded owner. With his business partners — Onur and Amelia, the trio collaborated and designed an immaculate guesthouse called Guest House Hachi with spectacular decor.

Pouring their hearts and souls into establishing the business, the trio often worked long hours and often into the middle of the night to launch this guest house in time for its grand opening this year. Not only did I witness the result of their combined efforts to transform a traditional town house (or 町家 / まちや)into an impeccably-designed guest house in Kyoto, but I also received such a warm welcome that I couldn’t wait to publish an Instagram story about it.

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Transforming Maps into Creative Art — Creativity Meets Technology

A truly innovative company, Stroly developed a platform to create, upload, share, and even design unique, original maps. Bridging the world of technology with the world of art, Stroly provides an ideal interface for artists, that is equally useful for the everyday user. By matching the user's location with localized maps, Stroly makes the world of art more accessible and convenient for users.

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なぜこのビジネスパーソンにフォーカスしたネットワーキングサービスが日本で支持されているのか. | Why This Professional Networking Service Is Excelling In Japan

A bilingual article featuring Japanese female founder, Akiko Naka of Wantedly that was originally published here.

Wantedlyの創始者である、仲暁子さんの人柄を表現すると、次の3つの言葉が当てはまると言えます。自信がある。聡明。そして親しみやすい。そんな仲さんが立ち上げた、日本発のビジネスパーソンにフォーカスしたネットワーキングサービスWantedlyには大きく分けて2つの特徴があります。

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10 Captivating Facts About Re-mix Co. Female Founder

An Interview with Japanese Business Owner, Ritsuko Tominaga

Ritsuko Tominaga has one of the most fascinating life histories that I have ever heard. A sole proprietor and business consultant with 4 employees at Re-mix Co., Ritsuko is a middleman or middlewoman who creates unique and innovative OEM goods, or Original Equipment Manufacturer.

This entails meeting with clients such as department stores, to deeply understand their goals and stated desires, before meeting with an appropriate manufacturer to explain the clients' goals. With her unique background of working at her grandfather's sweets factory — Olympia Confectionary — from a young age, Ritsuko knows what is and isn't possible to manufacture.

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An Introduction to Silicon Valley's Landscape and Top Companies

"An Introduction to Silicon Valley's Landscape and Top Companies" was prepared to cater to a Japanese audience. Last week, I presented this in Japanese to Kyoto University undergraduate students. 

In Japan, we receive very little news and updates about the latest in Silicon Valley technologies. As such, the purpose of this presentation was an overview of the captivating facts and fundamental information that everyone should know.

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A Fresh Renewal — 8+ Years as a Housewife to a Self-Made Business Consultant

On a sunny afternoon, I met with an extremely well-mannered, well-dressed, and warm-hearted female entrepreneur — Yoko Yamada of a Business Manners Consulting Company. An inherently positive person, Yoko does her best to uplift others through her seminars. In fact, she even hosts workshops around building self-esteem and self-confidence called, “自分を褒める” or “Praise Myself.”

Every morning without fail, Yoko positively uplifts herself by saying “今日も頑張ろう!” Or, “Let's do our best today!”Recently back from a whirlwind 10-day trip to conduct a Business Manners course for a few companies, Yoko Yamada was full of energy, and dare I say, impeccably dressed. In fact, she looked younger and more vibrant than me, even though she has a 20-year-old son.

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An Outstanding Example of Overcoming Insurmountable Odds to Create a Thriving Business

An Interview with Female Founder, Sachiko Okamoto

Seamlessly switching back-and-forth between Japanese and English, Sachiko Okamoto and I had a delightful conversation in a vibrant room filled with captivating books, games, and pen pal letters. The founder of Willpower Learning Institute — an English School with more than 100 students and 4 teachers in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture — Sachiko truly adores her job!

Due to her kindness, passion for the role of teaching, and devoted attention to her students, Sachiko's students have stayed by her side, wherever she was teaching, for over 13 years. And even some of the children of her previous students, are now attending her school. Although Sachiko ran into many obstacles along the way, everything led to her current success and fundamental happiness with the way her life turned out!

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How This Female Entrepreneur Plans to Change the World

If I only had one word to describe her, I would use — visionary! Yes, it's a cliché, especially when attributed to entrepreneurs, but there's no better word than this, to describe Mariko Fukui.

Currently, Mariko is the Founder and CEO of Aalto International —a global branding and public relations company. With a number of accomplishments already under her belt (i.e. CEO by the age of 25, learned English on the job in Singapore, has traveled to over 20 countries, etc.), Mariko has now set her sights on creating the world's first global sustainability solutions platform.

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How This Japanese Female Entrepreneur Succeeded in Designing Her Own Career Path

An Interview with Designer Sachie Suzuki of a Women's Boutique in Tokyo

Right after Sachie Suzuki's eldest child turned 1 in 1991, she launched her boutique in Tokyo. From full-time housewife to launching her own brand, Sachie made a dramatic change.

The reason, you may ask? Well, she was honestly a bit bored as a full-time housewife, sought to be financially independent, and she deeply desired to design unique items.

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Let's Bring on the Sunshine & Positivity!

I. Why Do You Blog?

Originally, I built my website as a portfolio of what I planned to accomplish, if I were fortunate enough to earn the Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarship. Fortunately, I did receive the scholarship, and decided to make this an online resource for Japanese women who are thinking about starting their own business. And now, it's evolved into a collection of inspirational stories of Japanese female entrepreneurs, plus my musings of living abroad as an expat in Kyoto!

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Why This Professional Networking Service is Excelling in Japan

Confident. Transparent. And approachable. These are the 3 words that I would use to quickly describe Akiko Naka, founder of Wantedly — the game-changing, professional networking service in Japan that offers two unique services.

One, Wantedly allows candidates who are interested in a particular company to visit the offices of the potential employer — a highly unusual service in Japan. Two, Wantedly’s mission is to create: “A world where work meets passion.”

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How This Female Founder Spearheaded Innovative Kimono Accessory Designs

A stunning, fashionable, light-hearted, and fun woman, Yukiko Yamamoto happily shared her personal trajectory. Now at the age of 67, she runs a design studio for kimono accessories called 紅小梅 (べにこうめ)・京都 (きょうと) in Kyoto and Shanghai with 4 full-time employees. Yukiko creates custom-made and personalized goods for her customers based on their wishes.

Fundamentally optimistic and warm, you would never guess that Yukiko has overcome betrayal and embezzlement of a former employee, surmounted huge piles of debt, and been the target of constant gossip. But she has

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Harue’s High-end Women’s Fashion Store in Kyoto

Meet Harue — a unique, captivating, and extremely warm individual. She’s different. She’s fashionable. And she’s strong! Over the course of multiple meetings including a dinner and a few visits to her store, I got to know this remarkable woman.

Launching her first store at the young age of 21 in Aichi Prefecture and running that business for 12 years, Harue has now been overseeing a high-end women’s fashion business in Kyoto called Hodge Podge for the past 18 years.

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A Calming & Creative Twist to a Centuries Old Tradition

Graceful. Elegant. And mired in tradition. These were my three takeaways from my visit with Atsuko Mori at Camellia — the founder of a traditional tea ceremony experience, geared towards foreigners in Kyoto. Atsuko started her company a mere 3 years ago, and already plans on expanding to a new location within the next year. 

Now with a steady business under her belt with 13 people working for her, all of whom are women, Atsuko is conducting more PR and making more time for herself. She recently appeared on television, was featured on Facebook Japan’s #SheMeansBusiness to promote female founders, created a video on how to make matcha tea, and married a man from the UK

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Pioneering Female Founder from the Japanese Tech Scene

Towards the end of 2016, I wrapped up my final interview of the year with Japanese female entrepreneur Chika Tsunoda, a Keio University graduate — one of the top business universities in Japan. Within a mere 40 minutes, I learned about her views on what makes an entrepreneur successful in Japan and the best advice she ever received.

In 2013 at the age of 28, Chika Tsunoda began her Anytimes technology business with neither a background in technology, nor programming friends. As such, she started from humble beginnings of crowdsourcing employees in order to create exactly what she wanted — an online skill share platform to connect users who need services such as housecleaning or cooking with local talent. 

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The Most Important Factor to Become a World-Class Organization // Defined

World-class organizations are those that strive on a daily basis to make a positive impact on the lives of others, no matter how large. As such, the most important factor in order to become a world-class organization is the company’s leadership, as demonstrated by Google, Wantedly, and Kyocera.

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Breaking Stereotypes —  A Young Foreign Mother & Female Founder in Japan

Impressive. Inspiring. And invigorating! These were the words I immediately felt while speaking to amazing female entrepreneur  —  Omima M. Miki, or “Mimi” for short. Currently, her task list is larger than most Japanese サラリーマンor “salary men.” One of her latest initiatives is planning and launching an “温泉と旅館” or a Japanese-style hotel paired with a relaxing onsen spa and delectable Japanese-style food.

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The Gratitude Diaries // Cheesy, Yet So True

Happy 8th Month Anniversary, Julie Taeko! Congratulations on lasting this long!

Even more importantly, congratulations to all of my fellow MEXT scholars and friends, who have also surmounted many obstacles, made peace with the そこびえ “penetrating cold” winters, securedアルバイト or “part-time jobs,” located barebones apartments for relatively inexpensive prices, navigated the bureaucracy of the Japanese government, discovered the most delicious restaurants for reasonable prices around town, traveled all over Japan and to nearby countries, made friends with people from literally all over the world, and most importantly, uncovered ways to truly enjoy living in Kyoto, Japan!

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