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.
September Strategic Partner News
Check out the latest member offers and opportunities from our Strategic Partners 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 provide professional and personal services […]Published on 4th September 2017
July Meeting Recap: One Size Doesn’t Fit All
By Lisa Matsumoto, Public Relations & Communications Intern The 2016-17 FEW year ended with our monthly meeting on July 13, where we were joined by guests and members to hear about the endeavors of longtime FEW member, Melanie Uematsu. Melanie was born in Germany and studied fashion design in Berlin and London. Fascinated with Japan, […]Published on 3rd September 2017
June 2017 Women’s Start-up Club Recap: Mentorship and Networking
The FEW Women’s Start-up Club wrapped up the year on June 29, with a timely presentation on mentoring and motivation for entrepreneurs by Patricia Bader Johnston. Patricia’s career in Japan has spanned the public sector, including the Canadian Embassy, and the private sector, including positions at Goldman Sachs and Japan Tabaco, corporate decision-making as a […]Published on 1st August 2017
Event Recap: Few & Mirai no Mori Concert For a Cause
What a night! On behalf of all of us at FEW, a great, big thank you for joining us for Concert For a Cause! On a balmy, summer night, FEW members, friends and performers got together at British pub 2nd Half in Takadanobaba for a night of music to raise funds for Mirai No Mori, an NPO providing […]Published on 14th July 2017
How I Got Here: Joanna Sato
I look through the windows of my Japanese home at the cityscape of Tokyo and I see how my life has been a series of navigating varied landscapes. The landscape I inhabit now is very different from the one of my hometown in the south of Poland, where my journey began. I first left home […]Published on 30th June 2017
Midweek Lunch Mixer at Le Petit Marché Roppongi
Take a break from work and join us for delicious food and great networking at our monthly midweek lunch gathering at Le Petit Marché in Roppongi!
Share Your Passion
Do you run your own business or are you thinking of starting one? Join the first FEW Women's Start-Up Club of 2017-2018 to share your projects and passions and connect with other like-minded when who may be able to help you in your entrepreneurial journey.
Make the Connection: Practical Networking Strategies that Work for You
Join us for an interactive workshop with Helen Iwata, Founder of Sasuga! Communications, to learn about the benefits of networking, and gain insights, practical tips and strategies for connecting with confidence, conviction and purpose.
Japan's Path to Multiculturalism
At our October Monthly Meeting, we’re welcoming a panel of speakers to discuss multiculturalism in Japan today, including what steps organizations and individuals are taking to help expose people to multicultural environments and develop a more inclusive society.