It’s not without a sense of irony that I find myself settled in Tokyo with my Japanese husband and two children, writing about Japan for a living and wondering when we will ever make it back to England. My first love affair with a country as a schoolgirl was in fact with Japan’s fractious neighbor China, not Japan, thanks to my Chinese heritage on my father’s side.
But a visit to Japan, in which I was plunged straight into the world of summer temple festivals and Hello Kitty conventions, soon saw a swing in my allegiance that strengthened over the years until all I could think of to do upon graduating from university was to go and live there. Thus I ended up on the JET program teaching English in Osaka, where some animistic Japanese deity of fate dealt me their next blow: meeting my future husband.
In Osaka, I developed a mystified fascination with Japanese fashion, whether cosplayers at a Gackt visual-kei concert or flagrant youth fashions, the likes of which I had observed on the streets and studied endlessly in the pages of the FRUiTS book of Japanese street snaps.
Embarking on a PhD in social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to study the motivations and social lives of these egregious dressers in Tokyo, someone pointed out to me that my own obsessively coordinated outfits must be at the root of my fixation with those who dared to mix and match to the extreme.
A PhD and two books later, I still find myself safely coordinating my looks, even if they do contain the odd eccentric piece from fieldwork days or ‘research’ shopping trips. It was thanks to the upcoming publication of the second book, Tokyo Fashion City (now available!) that I stumbled into FEW, being asked to present on a fashion-themed panel in late 2015.
The year’s free membership I received in thanks was a most welcome (and very cunning!) reward, and I was soon back for another monthly meeting not as a presenter, but a member. Now I am a regular attendee of both monthly meetings and the business group, and it is with FEW’s support and bonhomie that I consider the next stage of my encounter with Japan.
Philomena’s latest book is Tokyo Fashion City: A Detailed Guide to Tokyo’s Trendiest Fashion Districts. Check it out here on Amazon.
February 2017: Welcoming our new FEW Members
This month, we are proud to welcome five new members to the FEW community! Our members hail from all over the world and have diverse and unique experiences to share with FEW. As the go-to place for personal and professional learning and connection, we’re constantly inspired by our members. If you’re interested in FEW membership, click here for […]Published on 10th February 2017
Q&A with Rena Suzuki, Co-founder and Leader of Lean In Tokyo
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘Leaning In’ in the workplace, we’re featuring a Q&A with speaker Rena Suzuki, Co-founder and Leader of Lean In Tokyo. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Here, Rena reflects on following her passion, the power of connection, […]Published on 6th February 2017
History of FEW Series: Past FEW Speakers
For the second part of our History of FEW series, we’re taking a look back at past speakers at FEW. We’ve highlighted just a handful of the many impressive leaders that have shared their insights and experiences with the FEW community. These speakers are from the years leading up to 1998, and we’ll be featuring […]Published on 1st February 2017
January 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Get Branded!
On Wednesday, January 25, Risa Sasaki of Yoroshiku Fantastic, KK introduced the FEW Women’s Start-Up Club to the world of branding. A successful brand gives a strong first impression of a company’s unique offerings, personality and values. Risa shared her experience in starting her own business, along with her expertise on building a memorable brand that represents you, […]Published on 31st January 2017
The Many Shades of Harassment
With March honoring International Women’s Day, our March meeting will focus on recognizing signs of harassment and abuse. Sachi Nakajima, founder of Resilience, a NPO supporting victims of harassment and abuse in Japan, will share her perspective and raise awareness of this important issue.
The Way of Tea: Tea Ceremony with Ruth (Sōshin) Lionberger
Learn about the art of the Japanese tea ceremony, its deep cultural meaning, and its meaning for women's empowerment at this talk and demonstration led by Ruth (Sōshin) Lionberger.
The Art of Pricing and Negotiation
Join us for the fourth Women’s Start-Up Club meeting on Wednesday, March 29th, where we’ll learn about the "art of pricing and negotiation" in an interactive workshop featuring Vanessa Oshima, global women’s brand manager at Nike.
Midweek Lunch Mixer at Le Petit Marché
Join us for delicious food and great networking on Thursday, March 30 for our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Le Petit Marché in Roppongi.
Dream, Girl - Movie Night with FEW and Mums in Business
Join FEW and Mums in Business for this special screening of Dream, Girls, which tells the stories of amazing female entrepreneurs inspiring the next generation of leaders. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with women entrepreneurs in Tokyo. Don't miss this screening, the first in Tokyo!