OCTOBER 2020 (VOL.156)
OCTOBER 2020 (VOL.156)
From Bury, UK
Why do you study in Japan?
I’m an Ikigai and Inclusion Facilitator and leadership executive coach based in Tokyo, Japan. I work with Japanese and International corporate clients to align individual, team, and organizational purposes (ikigai) through workshops, journey programs, and coaching. My focus is on increasing employee engagement by making more inclusive and happier workplaces. As a certified Points of You® Expert, I use Points of You® Coaching Tools as a way to create memorable and impactful experiences.
Throughout this job, what would you like to teach to people who attend your course?
I’d like people to feel that they have choices in their lives. Each day we can have more influence than we think by choosing our responses to different situations. In many cases, it is possible to find other options and not everything is a binary yes or no, black or white. There are many options in between.
Why did you start your business in Japan?
Since I started in 2016, the content I deliver has shifted as I learned more about my own ikigai. I see that as a bilingual and a long term resident with experience in a fast-growing company, I can relate to many of my client’s challenges. Clients hire me when they want to bring in a fresh pair of eyes who can help their team focus on and amplify what is going on. I love the variety of clients and projects that I work on and the freedom of designing my own schedule. What do you think of Japan and England’s societies; the good and bad points of each country? Both cultures have a fair share of “on the surface” politeness and manners which helps things to go smoothly (keeping a stiff upper lip in the UK and Gaman in Japan for example) but this can lead to quite a lot of misunderstandings if you can’t read between the lines. In my experience, English people especially tend to deflect with humor or sarcasm but in Japan, I experience more silence or passive aggression.
What is the distinctive difference between your country and Japans’ lifestyles?
20 years in, I’m not really sure what lifestyle is like in the UK anymore. I’d say that people take their hobbies very seriously from an early age in Japan in a way I didn’t notice in the UK. Whether you are a hiker, a runner, or a gardener in Japan, having your specialist gear is essential. People seem to really commit!
What do you miss about your maternal country living in Japan?
Chatting to strangers about the weather and random topics at bus stops. I still chat to strangers but I usually get asked about being a foreigner. It’s nice to go unnoticed.
What do you find different about living in Japan over the term compared to when you first arrived or came as a tourist?
Being able to read and communicate. When I first arrived without any Japanese, it was really hard to connect with local life. Doing the simplest things was a huge hassle. Now I deliver workshops in Japanese and am much more confident that the language life is easier.
What do you appreciate most about Japanese culture?
Reliable – things just work. It’s clean, safe and experiences are guaranteed. People respect personal property and rules. Of course, this means that things are not flexible so when you want to go off-piste, expect resistance!
Which places in Japan do you recommend that foreigners see?
Karatsu in Saga, Kyushu, where my husband is from. It has an amazing festival in early November called Karatsu Kunchi.
Are there any aspects of the Japanese culture or its people that you find bizarre or unique?
Institutional sexism. Despite having a highly educated female population there are still huge barriers to women’s participation in politics and employment at decision making levels.
What are your favorite Japanese foods?
Mentaiko Mochi Cheese Monjayaki!
Would you like to continue to live in Japan for the rest of your life?
Never say never. I take each day as it comes. For now, I’m very content with my professional and personal life in Tokyo and Brexit Britain is more like a foreign country to me! But who knows, it’s great to have options.