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.Read More
KJ’s Ananya Mayukha interviews Julie Gramlich, a Masters student at Kyoto University, researching female entrepreneurship. Originally from San Francisco with cultural roots in Japan, Julie worked for a female founder in the Silicon Valley before receiving the Japanese Education Ministry’s MEXT scholarship to study the entrepreneurial environment for women in Japan. As part of this research, Julie has interviewed over 20 Japanese women in a range of fields: those who’ve started medical programs, bakeries, and networking platforms, among other businesses.Read More
By far, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, is the best empowerment book that I have ever read. Katty Kay is an anchor for BBC world News America, and Claire Shipman is a correspondent for ABC News and Good Morning America.
One of my favorite quotes is: “When confidence emanates from our core, we are at our most powerful.” In my opinion, this is the core essence of the book — how to obtain a fundamental state of confidence and vibrant, positive energy.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
"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.Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
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.”Read More
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 hasRead More
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.Read More
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 UKRead More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
Recently, I interviewed an incredible female founder, Emi Takeumura Miller. We spoke about everything ranging from the advantages of starting a female entrepreneurship to the importance of sharing your vision with everyone you meet. Not only did she co-found Peatix.com, a mobile-focused event platform, but she also co-founded FutureEdu Tokyo, an education-based community, and co-hosted Unreasonable Labs Japan, a 5-day, hyper-accelerator to give Japan-based, social entrepreneurships an “unfair advantage to scale and succeed.” Most recently, Emi spoke at TEDxRoppongi to encourage more young female participation in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).Read More