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. Read More
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. 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
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:
- Provide an overview of my background,
- Share major highlights about the research I've done so far regarding female founders in Japan, and
- 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. Read More
After hours upon hours of preparing and practicing the presentation, I finally presented the following speech about “My Future Aspirations” to an audience of over 50 people, including the local mayor. The Women for World Peace (WFWP) NGO organized a half day of festivities for us, replete with a sushi bento for lunch, two spectacular performances, an awards ceremony, and light dessert with the judges at the end.
Enjoy part of my presentation (on albeit, a shaky camera). Read More
An Interview with a Man You Need to Know — Arnaud Bonzom
At the 2017 Tokyo Slush Technology Conference, I had the pleasure of interviewing Arnaud Bonzom — an extremely accomplished, innovative, and dedicated supporter of women's empowerment and diversity initiatives.
500 Startups, for those who don't know, is an international early stage venture fund and startup accelerator with offices in more than 14 countries, including Japan. 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
On a sunny day in Tokyo, I visited Kazuyo Saka's high-end women's fashion store called Kana. A warm, sociable, social-media friendly Japanese entrepreneur, Kazuyo struck me as a woman I could truly look up to as an inspirational role model.
Kazuyo always had a profound love for fashion, and quickly began working for a small design company right after finishing school, similar to entrepreneur Yukiko Yamamoto. While there, she developed a keen sense of discovering high-quality and inexpensive raw materials, and finessed her design skills. 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 has Read 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 UK 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
By searching Abe Hiroshi’s name in Netflix, I discovered a TV show called アットホーム・ダッド, or “At Home Dad” by Fuji TV. And of course, this show immediately sparked my interest. After all, I am researching female entrepreneurship and empowerment in Japan. Read More
In a brand new co-working space called Galvanize in SOMA, San Francisco, I was fortunate enough to meet the founder of Women 2.0 — Shaherose Charania.
For those who don’t know, Women 2.0 is one of the most impressive organizations that can safely say its made a difference in the lives of 55,000 women who attended its 500 events in 25 different cities around the world — eight of which I have personally volunteered for and attended. In addition, a whopping 5,000 articles were posted by female entrepreneurs on the Women 2.0 website. Beyond events and articles, the organization has empowered over 100 women to start pre-seed companies with people they met at one of the events. Read More
A down-to-earth female entrepreneur with quite an accomplished background, Kanoko Oishi received her BA at Osaka University before earning her MBA at Harvard. Through Harvard’s network, she also met and inspired Kay Deguchi, the founder of Ochanomizu Orthopaedic Clinic.
Upon graduating Harvard, Kanoko Oishi joined McKinsey consulting company and worked there for 12 years. Her role focused on how companies can make themselves more customer-oriented. Incredibly dedicated to her work, and highly intelligent, she quickly rose to the role of partner. Read More
A young, captivating, and highly intelligent woman, Yuka Fujii is the founder of a uniquely positioned startup. Famarry blends the words “family” and “marriage” to capture the heart of the business idea. An online platform that matches couples with their ideal wedding and family photographer, Famarry’s mission is to help couples realize their vision for their ideal wedding and family photography. Read More
This interview was so juicy with phenomenal content that I ended up splitting it into two parts. In this first blog post, I will introduce her and her chosen field, as well as share a life lesson that she imparted on me. Enjoy Part I! Skip ahead to Part II, if you want to read abut the advice she shares to female entrepreneurs.
Kay Deguchi, owner of Ochanomizu Orthopoedic Clinic — an innovative rehab center, is an exceptional entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience in pharmaceuticals, medicine, medical devices, and even media companies such as Disney, Kay is extremely knowledgeable and brings a diverse set of skills to her chosen field of interest Read More
I plan on conducting a comparative study of female entrepreneurship in Tokyo and Silicon Valley with a focus on socioeconomic and political trends.
A good place to begin contacting female entrepreneurs in Japan is the Women Entrepreneurs Center run by the Development Bank of Japan. Both the finalists and judges have a wealth of experiences and knowledge about developing businesses in the Japanese context. Prior to arriving in Japan, I will begin connecting with people associated to the program. Read More