Inbound Ambassador

When Life Gives You Sakura

Safe to say I have cherry blossoms on my mind as I brought it up when talking with a few guests this month.

The words of guests in the series often come back to me at different times after our seeking sustainability live talkshow discussions. When I was talking with Stephen Filiatrault about the Japanese concept of Hakanai, a concept to describe things that are fleeting and short-lived, it is a great description of the cherry blossom.

This Haiku poem describes the concept so beautifully:
If only we might fall,
Like Cherry Blossoms in the Spring,
So Pure and Radiant

When talking with Bernd Schellhorn and Mitsue Nagase about interviewing experts in Japan’s food culture, a recurring theme came up. It is vital when seeking out the reason to do things as artisans, in the traditional methods, requires you to change your mindset and find a way to not only endure and get through tasks, but to actually find a way to enjoy the hard work while doing it.

The 200th episode was a reminder of why it’s worth continuing this passion project. There are so many positive, cascading effects from the collaboration and discussions on a variety of issues with interesting people from across Japan. It’s still enjoyable and inspiring, but also time-consuming. So, if I were to lose sight of the bigger picture of why I’m doing the talkshow series, and it just becomes a daily grind, I need to step away. Coming back to it after I’ve had time to reflect and refocus is so important. I do feel I am getting more out of the episodes as time goes on, thanks to the insights and learnings from previous guests.

Getting too comfortable in the day-to-day routine makes it more shocking when your life is forced to unexpectedly change. This was the case for anyone in Tohoku in 2011, including our guestsJayne Nakata as well as Angela and Erwin Ortiz .

They all talked about their experiences 10 years ago this month in Tohoku after the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. It was not only about personal survival, but also helping others in their local communities. It was also about making impossible decisions about whether to stay or to abandon your home.

Training the leaders of tomorrow, and creating better futures for us all was the main theme of the talk with Louise Sorensen who coordinates voyages and events with Peace Boat, opening participant’s eyes to the wider world beyond Japan’s borders.

Gaining new insights on discrimination from a radically different point of view was what Shu Matsuo Post discussed as he introduced stories from his new book, I Took Her Name.

Lee Utsumi joined the series from Instagram LIVE as she gave us a tour of her new bakery after many years working in a small space. She feels so much happier and free to work hard and take care of her customers in her new bakery. I love the family heritage embedded in her decorations, carrying on the artisan traditions.

Author Azby Brown also told stories of how Japanese home designs have been evolving over time as the family dynamic changes. The fusion of traditional aesthetic and modern technology makes the perfect “dream house” in Japan. It’ll be interesting to see how this also incorporates more sustainable designs in Japan homes like renewable energy, insulation and building materials that can be reused.