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.
May 2018 FEW Women’s Start-Up Club Recap: The Importance of Cyber Security to Entrepreneurs
In our May Women’s Start-Up Club, Nicola Vote of McAfee shed light on how entrepreneurs can protect their customers and also protect their reputation and business online. And she managed to leave us all well informed, alert yet a bit “scared”, too. Let’s jump into some definitions and which aspects are important when it […]Published on 24th June 2018
Special Event Recap – Radical Boundaries Workshop with Sarah Furuya
FEW’s June Special Event Workshop, took place on June 21st, 2018 at H&R Roppongi and was run by Sarah Furuya, FEW Strategic Partner, long-time member and former president who works as a life & executive coach, facilitator and mentor, supporting particularly women in achieving their goals and realizing their dreams. Her workshop “Radical Boundaries: […]Published on 24th June 2018
Q&A with Cynthia Usui, author and Head of Hospitality, Tokyo 2020 Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company
Leading up to our upcoming monthly meeting on ‘Breaking the Mold: Finding New Beginnings at Any Age,’ we’re featuring a Q&A with Cynthia Usui, author of 専業主婦が就職するまでにやっておくべき8つのこと (Eight things Full-Time Housewives Should Do Before Entering the Workforce) and Head of Hospitality, Tokyo 2020 Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company. The Q&A is modeled on the Proust Questionnaire, designed to […]Published on 7th June 2018
June 2018 Strategic Partner Member Offers and Other News
Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners and other FEW Community Events here! Our Strategic Partners are committed to bringing the best services and products to FEW members. And go to our Strategic Partners page to learn more about all of FEW’s Strategic Partners, who not only support FEW’s activities but also […]Published on 6th June 2018
May 2018 Monthly Meeting Recap: Stronger Together: FEW x FAJ
Who knew that our members had so many hidden talents? The first joint event with FEW and FAJ — the group for French-speaking professional women in Tokyo — on May 15 unveiled quite few surprises as we listened to presentations about their work, projects, lives, experiences and aspirations. Members of both associations are involved in […]Published on 5th June 2018
Women's Start-Up Club: Branding with Archetypes
Come along to the final Women's Start-Up Club meeting of the FEW year where we'll discuss the classic brand archetypes and how to choose the right archetype for your business.
Midweek Lunch Mixer
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Royal Garden Cafe in Shibuya.
Mentoring Moments Senpai Brunch: Finding Love in Japan
Join us for our next Mentoring Moments Senpai Brunch on dating and cross-cultural relationships in Japan.
The Powerful Sea Nomads of Japan: The Legacy & Lessons of the Ama Free Divers
Join us as Anne McDonald discusses the unique history of Japanese Ama divers and shares insights from these strong women about sisterhood, protecting tradition and the environment, and preserving the Ama way of life.