Heading into the Holidays with more enthusiasm, but still in isolation. I hope you are finding ways to stay positive, make proactive steps (however small) toward your goals and reach out to other people to maintain connections even if it is from behind a mask or through a computer screen. Please take care!
First Two Weeks of December
On the 1st of December, I talked with Fuji Jake (Jacob Reiner) based in Yamanashi with a gorgeous view of Mt.Fuji. Jake is in real estate and has great experience over a long time flipping Akiya from trash to gold and creating sustainable developments for new builds and neighborhoods that are more efficient with insulation and renewable energy, with attached food gardens, as well as beautifully and comfortably designed.
On the 2nd, I then talked with Jess Hallams about her efforts to re-brand Tohoku as a more appealing tourism and travel destination. She talks about her turnaround from the shock of being sent as a JET to Fukushima and realizing the problems of devastation and nuclear danger only make up 3% of the prefecture. She introduced beautiful coastal experiences and local interactive opportunities unique and special to the Tohoku area.
On the 3rd, I talked with Kaori and Byron Nagy about their move to a healthier life in the Inaka. Coming from corporate careers and city slicker lives in Tokyo to the clean air, water and grow your own food capability of living in the countryside. They started with an eco-lodge and transition to sales of their free-range eggs and organic veggies online during Coronavirus as travel has stopped. They are working on a new Akiya remodel which will become their home.
December 4th was special as I talked with my Dad, Jay Jarman about his work supporting kids and their families. He started a language school business in Oita, Japan that went beyond teaching kids English to starting a non-profit back in Hawaii which created healthy, supportive relationships between kids in need of attention and supportive adults or older students called Common Grace.
On the 8th, talked about travel in Tohoku again- this time in the area of Yamagata where Derek Yamashita has set up his travel company The Hidden Japan. Derek is doing a stunning job of using this COVID19 slowdown in travel to prepare local businesses in how to best welcome international guests once travel is safe again. I can’t wait to visit this hard to get to area of Japan to really get away from it all and experience its beautiful, deep culture and amazing people.
December 9th, I talked with Chika Iwami who founded a Japan Home Cooking School. She is originally from Hyogo, but based in Melbourne Australia where she is now teaching her grandmother and mother’s homestyle cooking recipes to Australians using local ingredients. It’s great to hear how flexible Japanese cooking can be and how popular it is abroad. She wants to help people think of Japanese dishes as part of their everyday or every week meals. I am planning for a short online course in sustainable Japanese cooking with Chika-sensei for January, so watch this space!
On the 10th, I talked with the Akiya Hunter Matt Ketchum. He has co-founded the Akiya and Inaka business to help link available empty, vacant, abandoned houses with the international market in and outside of Japan looking for real estate development or housing in the countryside area. This new startup business has a lot of potential to support the demand from urban dwellers looking for a more relaxing and healthy quality of life in the countryside.
Friday the 11th was a fun and insightful talk with Bobby Judo – the other half of the Japan by river cruise podcast team. Bobby has worked as an entertainer TARENTO in Japan for many years and although only came to Japan after university, as a JET in SAGA was able to improve his Japanese ability and by working at restaurants after JET was able to develop a strong communication skill which he has applied to work on Japanese radio and TV. Based in Fukuoka, the Japan By River Cruise podcast he does with stand-up comedian Ollie Horn, talks with guests who are experts in a variety of topics related to current events in Japan.
- 14th 5pm: Hikosaemon will join me for another sub-series #WhatTheSustainableNewsJapan to talk about latest news and how it relates to sustainability issues of quality of life for people, preservation of the environment and viable economic profits.
- 15th 9am- Peter McIntosh is a talented Geisha photographer who has developed strong ties with local geisha connected businesses in Kyoto over many years.
- 16th 9am- Sake Mistress in Melbourne Australia, Simone Maynard supports Japan’s Sake masters and their wonderful products from her home far away.
- 17th 9am- Author Melodie Cook will tell us about adoption in Japan from her personal experiences and what she has learned along the way.
- 18th 9am- Mitsue Nagase introduces a unique style of photography to take only a single photo per scene with an element of mindfulness. She is a talented photographer whose stunning food photos we have seen in the Bernd Schellhorn talk on Shojin Ryori.
- 21st 9am- Bobby Coutu talks about his short films he shares on his Q2Japan YouTube channel. Bobby is a talented filmmaker and editor with a great talent for telling meaningful stories that don’t often get promoted in the mainstream.
- 22nd Yukari and Kimika Sweeney of YSD London introduce how they collaborate with artisans in Japan and reuse waste materials in their unique designs and business operations. We also talk about international and intercultural family dynamics and the strength of their mother-daughter work dynamic.
- 28th Tim Bunting tells us about his passion for introducing the Mountain Monk culture from the Yamagata area of Tohoku region in Northern Japan. Tim is easy to find if you search Kiwi-Yamabushi as he has been helping introduce the spiritual training to outsiders for the last ten years.
- 29th Ako-sensei introduces her NihongoLessons online that she has transitioned to during the coronavirus from face-to-face classes for people working in the Tokyo IT and game industry. Ako is talented at building a strong brand using social media, patreon in addition to her main website and online lessons. We also discuss Yasashi Nihongo and the benefits of teaching only in the target language.
- 30th Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda share insights from their book Japandemonium, an illustrated encyclopedia of Yokai Monsters. Japandemonium is a translation of poet-artist Toriyama Sekien work who had compiled the Japanese Yokai folklore into a type of illustrated Encyclopedia.
More December Highlights
On InboundAmbassador I have updated the Upcycled Gifts from Japan post to include some more recent artisans I have talked with in the Seeking Sustainability Live talkshow series who make beautiful products by repurposing disused kimono materials.
I also introduced the Holiday subscriber drive on the website, open until the 17th as another way to feature sustainable, made-in-japan products and add a little fun this season.