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.
How I Got Here: Tia Haygood
If you were to tell me that I would be an entrepreneur in a country 11,000 kilometers from my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, I would have laughed. Yet here I am running my own business, TopTia Photography. I officially moved to Japan in 2011 as an English teacher, biding my time before graduate school. […]Published on 1st March 2017
History of FEW Series: Illustrating Women in the Workplace
In celebrating 35 years of empowering women in Japan, FEW has been looking back on our unique collection of FEW historical items and information. One of our favorites is the FEW 20th Anniversary Newspaper, which highlights the early years of our organization. This newspaper is full of great mentions, interviews and historical anecdotes, all of […]Published on 1st March 2017
February Meeting Recap: Lean In: Japanese Women
By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern On February 9th, FEW members and guests leaned in to listen to our guest speaker, Rena Suzuki, co-founder and leader of Lean In Tokyo. Lean In is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women achieve their ambitions. Lean In Tokyo helps women gain confidence and take an active […]Published on 1st March 2017
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
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, General Manager, Women's Category, at Nike Japan.
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.
Unveiling Japan: New Themes in Travel & Tourism
Get the inside scoop on tourism in Japan as Chiara Terzuolo and Rie Miyoshi, two travel industry experts, discuss how Japan is promoting tourism in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as well as new business opportunities in the industry and their top picks for Golden Week.
Special Lunch Mixer in Midtown Park
Join us for delicious food and great networking over a picnic in Midtown Park on Thursday, April 20, at a special edition of our monthly midweek lunch gathering.