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How I Got Here: Philomena Keet

Philomena-2 (2)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.

News

2017 Japan WINConference: Creating a Flourishing Future

Join global leaders at this half-day conference to exchange best practices with companies embracing diversity and initiating inclusive cultures, and to connect with women and men paving the way in their industries. FEW Japan is proud to be a Partner Network of the 7th Japan WINConference, taking place in Tokyo on June 2, 2017, at […]

Published on 16th May 2017

Q&A with Henna Veitch, Betty Sayn-Wittgenstein, and Natale Adgnot

Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘Inspiration & Creativity,’ we’re featuring a Q&A with  our speakers Henna Veitch, Founder of Design by Henna, Betty Sayn-Wittgenstein, Chocolatier at Passion Chocolat, and Natale Adgnot, Visual Artist. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to reveal insights into the respondent’s personality. Find out how to follow […]

Published on 8th May 2017

Special Event Recap: Dream, Girl – Movie Night with FEW and Mums in Business

By Saya Matsumoto, Finance Director On Wednesday, April 26th, FEW and Mums in Business hosted the first screening of Dream, Girl in Japan, followed by a panel discussion with female entrepreneurs based in Tokyo. Dream, Girl is a documentary about female entrepreneurs, written, directed and produced by an all female crew. Inspired by the female […]

Published on 2nd May 2017

How I Got Here: Nina Cataldo

Becoming a young international professional was perhaps fate (or en, 縁). I’m half Japanese and was born in Tokyo, but primarily grew up in the United States. As a college student, I spent a semester back in Japan, but during this time, I felt there was no place for me, nor potential for a career, […]

Published on 2nd May 2017

April Meeting Recap: Unveiling Japan: New Themes in Travel & Tourism

By Raena Murakami, Public Relations and Communications Co-Director When you think of traveling in Japan, what destinations come to mind? Most people would say Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and other well-known cities. But what about Togakushi? With Golden Week approaching, Chiara Terzuolo and Rie Miyoshi challenged our notions of travel in Japan by encouraging travelers to […]

Published on 2nd May 2017

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