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.
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
Join us on May 31st to hear what it takes to run a successful "location independent" business. Three specialists share the truth on running three different successful businesses online: Blogging, Online-shopping and Online communications consulting.
A Personal Journey: Japan's War Brides
At our June meeting, hear the moving stories of Japanese war brides, who began new lives in difficult circumstances in the U.S., from film Lucy Craft, herself the daughter of a Japanese war bride. Join us as Lucy recounts the stories of these women and the making of her documentary 'Fall Seven Times, Get up Eight.’
Mirai no Mori Back to Nature Outdoor Cooking Program
Join us for a day in the outdoors at this Back to Nature program with Community Service Partner Mirai no Mori. FEW members and guests are welcome to join as volunteers in outdoor cooking and games with campers as positive role models.
FEW Members Exclusive Wine Mixer
Join FEW for our twice-yearly members exclusive wine mixer courtesy of Oakwood Premier Midtown. Come along, network and share your stories around a nice glass of wine!