Top Resources for Expats and Students in the Kansai Region of Japan

While working on a presentation for new MEXT scholars on how they can advance their careers as Japanese Government Research Scholars, I thought it would be valuable to create a collection of the top resources for both expats and students in the Kansai Region of Japan, which primarily includes Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe.

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Kyoto, Japan Versus San Francisco, California | What Are the Similarities and Differences?

As a San Francisco native and a student who has lived in Kyoto for 2.5 years, I’d say that I have a fair amount of experience to talk about the major differences and similarities between the two cities. After all, the minute you move to a new country, you almost immediately began to compare it with ‘home.’

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An Insider’s Look Into the English Programs at Kyoto University’s Economics Department — PART 1

What is the Official Title of the Program?

The title of the program is extraordinarily long, so no one seems to use the official title. Instead, when we reference the program colloquially, we say we are part of the “EA Program.”

The official title is: "International Graduate Programme for East Asia Sustainable Economic Development Studies.”

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3 Reasons Why You Should Read The Confidence Code

By far, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman[1], 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.

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Katrina Navallo — An Unexpected Love Story in Japan

When Katrina Navallo first arrived in Japan in April 2016 from the Philippines with a laundry list of tasks to accomplish, such as setting up a Japan Post Office bank account, moving into her new dorm room, and starting an Intensive Japanese Language program through the MEXT Scholarship program for 5 months at Kyoto University, she had no expectations of what was to come her way.

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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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7 Surprising Facts about the Meat Industry! Who Knew? Need a New Year's Resolution? Here's Some Ideas!

Happy New Year! As we all bask in the wonderful holiday season, full of good cheer and slightly larger waistbands, we may begin to think about our New Year's Resolutions. As such, I felt like this article would potentially spark some revitalized or brand-new interest in trying to eat less meat this year. Or some readers may do something more dramatic — attempting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for an entire year. Regardless, I hope this article teaches you something new. 

As part of a final presentation at Kyoto University, our group presented about the environmental impact of the meat industry. We wrapped up our presentation by sharing our key recommendations to create a more sustainable world. We did our best to answer this question:

“Why Should I Care?”

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The Top 3 Best Salads in Kyoto, Japan

While there are many types of Japanese-style salads that are readily available in Japan, one of the first things that I truly missed are San Francisco-style salads. In the bay area, you can easily obtain enormous, customizable salads with nuts, protein, vegetables, fruits, and even grains at places such as Sweetgreen. One of my personal favorites is a warm, friendly café called Crepevine that serves a hearty Bangkok Thai Chicken Salad with peanuts and a piece of bread on the side. On my recent trip back home, I went to this café at least 3 times with my family.

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Venturing Into Silicon Valley's Top Technology Companies — Part 2 | シリコンバレーのトップテクノロジー企業の冒険

Over the course of 5 days in early August 2017, 6 Kyoto University undergraduate students, my Professor — Chihiro Suematsu— and I, visited 6 top technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were fortunate enough to visit my former colleagues and extended network at Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Airbnb, and Google.

I’d like to express my deep appreciation to our countless hosts, both this year and last year, as well as my professor for making this Silicon Valley trip a reality.

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Venturing into Silicon Valley's Top Technology Companies — Part 1 | シリコンバレーのトップテクノロジー企業の冒険

Over the course of 5 days in early August 2017, 6 Kyoto University undergraduate students, my Professor — Chihiro Suematsu — and I, visited 6 top technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were fortunate enough to visit my former colleagues and extended network at Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Airbnb, and Google.

I’d like to express my deep appreciation to our countless hosts, both this year and last year, as well as my professor for making this Silicon Valley trip a reality.

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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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Cultivating Women Entrepreneurs and Female Founders in Japan

In July, I had the great fortune of presenting at a fantastic Non-Profit Organization or NPO called Kyoto SMI (Kyoto STEM Cells, Smart Materials & Innovation. 

The goals of the presentation were the following: 

  1. Provide an overview of my background, 
  2. Share major highlights about the research I've done so far regarding female founders in Japan, and
  3. Offer a few recommendations on how Kyoto SMI can cultivate and support more women entrepreneurs in Japan. 

Thank you very much for taking a look at this presentation.

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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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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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A Quickie // The Complexities of Throwing Away Trash in Kyoto

One of my first “adventures” living in Kyoto was deciphering the mesmerizingly complex trash dispensing system. No, it’s not as straightforward as “trash” versus “recycling.” Instead, there’s at least 6 different ways to separate trash. Not only do you have to learn what exactly goes into a “プラ” or plastic bag, but you also have to clean the interior of all items such as bento boxes, almond butter cans, used natto containers, etc. Most places even require you to remember what days specific types of trash can be thrown out.

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Experiencing the Startup Life in Silicon Valley | A Self-Initiated Mega Tour Part 2

Recently, my professor Chihiro Suematsu of the Graduate School of Economics and Management at Kyoto University sponsored 5 MBA students to join him in a weeklong tour of Silicon Valley startups (GoogleEchoUserChewse), and universities (StanfordUC BerkeleyUSF). Through both my professor’s connections and my contacts, we scheduled a whirlwind, often back-to-back tour of Silicon Valley companies and highlights.

In Part I, enjoy an FAQ-style overview about Silicon Valley. In Part II, you will learn something unique about each of the places we visited.

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