Japanese Female Entrepreneurs
Transforming Maps into Creative Art — Creativity Meets Technology
A truly innovative company, Stroly developed a platform to create, upload, share, and even design unique, original maps. Bridging the world of technology with the world of art, Stroly provides an ideal interface for artists, that is equally useful for the everyday user. By matching the user's location with localized maps, Stroly makes the world of art more accessible and convenient for users.
Together with a collaborative team, founder Machi Takahashi Masuoka was able to realize her vision and make Stroly the official map service for the city of Kyoto with over 300 different maps. Beyond this accomplishment, the company has also been featured on Forbes Japan and TechCrunch Japan — not just once, but twice.
And recently, the company secured its first VC Series A funding! Currently, the company is around 15 employees and actively hiring. By thinking globally and acting locally, the team at Stroly has developed a unique, avant-garde platform.
なぜこのビジネスパーソンにフォーカスしたネットワーキングサービスが日本で指示されて いるのか。Why This Professional Networking Service Is Excelling In Japan!
A bilingual article featuring Japanese female founder, Akiko Naka of Wantedly that was originally published here.
Confident. Wise. And approachable. These are the 3 words that I would use to quickly describe Akiko Naka, founder of Wantedly — the game-changing, professional networking service in Japan that offers two unique services.
10 Captivating Facts About Re-mix Co. Female Founder
An Interview with Japanese Business Owner, Ritsuko Tominaga
Ritsuko Tominaga has one of the most fascinating life histories that I have ever heard. A sole proprietor and business consultant with 4 employees at Re-mix Co., Ritsuko is a middleman or middlewoman who creates unique and innovative OEM goods, or Original Equipment Manufacturer.
This entails meeting with clients such as department stores, to deeply understand their goals and stated desires, before meeting with an appropriate manufacturer to explain the clients' goals. With her unique background of working at her grandfather's sweets factory — Olympia Confectionary — from a young age, Ritsuko knows what is and isn't possible to manufacture.
Baking Her Way To Success — A Deeper Look Into The Life Of Miki Yamamoto
A positive, curious, and successful business woman, mother, and wife, Miki Yamamoto epitomizes the ideal blend of managing both a career and family. In 2011, Miki made her childhood dream — to start her own business — come true, when she opened a stylish bakery in Kameoka called Patisserie Perle or パティスリーペルル. Impeccably designed, her store features exquisite, ready-made gift boxes and spectacularly-designed goods. Plus, Miki's baking skills even earned her 4th place in a national competition in Japan. With over 10 years of experience, a nationally-recognized baking award, and a year of apprenticeship in France, Miki is a top-notch baker in Kyoto's backyard of Kameoka. If you ever have a chance to visit Kameoka in Kyoto Prefecture, then grab something delicious to eat at Patisserie Perle. It's definitely worth a visit!
A Fresh Renewal — 8+ Years as a Housewife to a Self-Made Business Consultant
On a sunny afternoon, I met with an extremely well-mannered, well-dressed, and warm-hearted female entrepreneur — Yoko Yamada of a Business Manners Consulting Company. An inherently positive person, Yoko does her best to uplift others through her seminars. In fact, she even hosts workshops around building self-esteem and self-confidence called, “自分を褒める” or “Praise Myself.”
Every morning without fail, Yoko positively uplifts herself by saying “今日も頑張ろう！” Or, “Let's do our best today!”
Recently back from a whirlwind 10-day trip to conduct a Business Manners course for a few companies, Yoko Yamada was full of energy, and dare I say, impeccably dressed. In fact, she looked younger and more vibrant than me, even though she has a 20-year-old son.
Plus, for the past two years, she has been pursuing a Masters Degree at Doshisha University. As part of her University's Social Innovation Course, Yoko launched an NPO (non-profit organization) with government funding for NEET people — young Japanese people who are not going to school, work, or any form of training. Over a period of two years, she worked with severely depressed young people, who had difficult family situations, and helped them reenter society.
An Outstanding Example of Overcoming Insurmountable Odds to Create a Thriving Business
Seamlessly switching back-and-forth between Japanese and English, Sachiko Okamoto and I had a delightful conversation in a vibrant room filled with captivating books, games, and pen pal letters. The founder of Willpower Learning Institute — an English School with more than 100 students and 4 teachers in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture — Sachiko truly adores her job!
Due to her kindness, passion for the role of teaching, and devoted attention to her students, Sachiko's students have stayed by her side, wherever she was teaching, for over 13 years. And even some of the children of her previous students, are now attending her school.
Although Sachiko ran into many obstacles along the way, everything led to her current success and fundamental happiness with the way her life turned out!
How This Female Entrepreneur Plans To Change The World
If I only had one word to describe her, I would use — visionary! Yes, it's a cliché, especially when attributed to entrepreneurs, but there's no better word than this, to describe Mariko Fukui.
Currently, Mariko is the Founder and CEO of Aalto International —a global branding and public relations company. With a number of accomplishments already under her belt (i.e. CEO by the age of 25, learned English on the job in Singapore, has traveled to over 20 countries, etc.), Mariko has now set her sights on creating the world's first global sustainability solutions platform.
How This Japanese Female Entrepreneur Succeeded in Designing Her Own Career Path
An Interview with Designer Sachie Suzuki of a Women's Boutique in Tokyo
Right after Sachie Suzuki's eldest child turned 1 in 1991, she launched her boutique in Tokyo. From full-time housewife to launching her own brand, Sachie made a dramatic change.
The reason, you may ask? Well, she was honestly a bit bored as a full-time housewife, sought to be financially independent, and she deeply desired to design unique items.
A Captivating Role Model For Future Female Entrepreneurs In Japan
Why This Professional Networking Service Is Excelling In Japan
How This Female Founder Spearheaded Innovative Kimono Accessory Designs
An Interview with Japanese Founder & Designer, Yukiko Yamamoto of 紅小梅 (べにこうめ)・京都 (きょうと).
A stunning, fashionable, light-hearted, and fun woman, Yukiko Yamamoto happily shared her personal trajectory. Now at the age of 67, she runs a design studio for kimono accessories called 紅小梅 (べにこうめ)・京都 (きょうと) in Kyoto and Shanghai with 4 full-time employees. Yukiko creates custom-made and personalized goods for her customers based on their wishes.
Fundamentally optimistic and warm, you would never guess that Yukiko has overcome betrayal and embezzlement of a former employee, surmounted huge piles of debt, and been the target of constant gossip. But she has!
Harue’s High-End Women’s Fashion Store In Kyoto
A profile of Japanese female founder, Harue of Hodge Podge.
Meet Harue — a unique, captivating, and extremely warm individual. She’s different. She’s fashionable. And she’s strong! Over the course of multiple meetings including a dinner and a few visits to her store, I got to know this remarkable woman.
Launching her first store at the young age of 21 in Aichi Prefecture and running that business for 12 years, Harue has now been overseeing a high-end women’s fashion business in Kyoto called Hodge Podge for the past 18 years.
A Calming & Creative Twist To A Centuries Old Tradition
An Interview with Atsuko Mori, Japanese Female Founder of Camellia
Graceful. Elegant. And mired in tradition. These were my three takeaways from my visit with Atsuko Mori at Camellia — the founder of a traditional tea ceremony experience, geared towards foreigners in Kyoto. Atsuko started her company a mere 3 years ago, and already plans on expanding to a new location within the next year.
Now with a steady business under her belt with 13 people working for her, all of whom are women, Atsuko is conducting more PR and making more time for herself. She recently appeared on television, was featured on Facebook Japan’s #SheMeansBusiness to promote female founders, created a video on how to make matcha tea, and married a man from the UK.
Pioneering Female Founder From The Japanese Tech Scene
Towards the end of 2016, I wrapped up my final interview of the year with Japanese female entrepreneur Chika Tsunoda, a Keio University graduate — one of the top business universities in Japan. Within a mere 40 minutes, I learned about her views on what makes an entrepreneur successful in Japan and the best advice she ever received.
At the beginning of 2017, she was featured in an article in the Mainichi Newspapers called “2017年「旬の人」角田千佳さん (31) 経営と生け花、大胆にかつ繊細に.” Plus, Chika recently appeared on a Japanese TV show called TV Tokyo and interviewed for a Fresh Faces documentary on YouTube.
In 2013 at the age of 28, Chika Tsunoda began her Anytimes technology business with neither a background in technology, nor programming friends. As such, she started from humble beginnings of crowdsourcing employees in order to create exactly what she wanted — an online skill share platform to connect users who need services such as housecleaning or cooking with local talent.
Breaking Stereotypes — A Young Foreign Mother & Female Founder In Japan
A Profile of Omima M. Miki or “Mimi” for short.
Impressive. Inspiring. And invigorating! These were the words I immediately felt while speaking to amazing female entrepreneur — Omima M. Miki, or “Mimi” for short. Currently, her task list is larger than most Japanese サラリーマンor “salary men.” One of her latest initiatives is planning and launching an “温泉と旅館” or a Japanese-style hotel paired with a relaxing onsen spa and delectable Japanese-style food.
What’s unique about this enterprise is its promotion of 入れ墨 or “tattoos.” Historically, tattoos were only worn by the やくざ or “Japanese mafia and gangsters.” As such, they have an extremely negative connotation in Japan — a fact that most tattooed-foreigners quickly discover when they are rejected from gyms and spas. Sometimes, they are allowed to enter, if they bandage themselves to cover every speck of the tattoo. Obviously, this isn’t possible for everyone. So Mimi and her team decided to innovate and launch a tattoo-friendly, get-away.
Wisdom From Founder Of Women 2.0 — Shaherose Charania
In a brand new co-working space called Galvanize in SOMA, San Francisco, the founder of Women 2.0 — Shaherose Charania — and I met for a brief exchange.
For those who don’t know, Women 2.0 is one of the most impressive organizations that can safely say its made a difference in the lives of 55,000 women who attended its 500 events in 25 different cities around the world — eight of which I have personally volunteered for and attended. In addition, a whopping 5,000 articles were posted by female entrepreneurs on the Women 2.0 website. Beyond events and articles, the organization has empowered over 100 women to start pre-seed companies with people they met at one of the events.
Introducing Japanese Female Entrepreneur — Emi Takemura Miller Of Peatix.Com & FutureEdu Tokyo
Recently, I interviewed an incredible female founder, Emi Takeumura Miller. We spoke about everything ranging from the advantages of starting a female entrepreneurship to the importance of sharing your vision with everyone you meet. Not only did she co-found Peatix.com, a mobile-focused event platform, but she also co-founded FutureEdu Tokyo, an education-based community, and co-hosted Unreasonable Labs Japan,a 5-day, hyper-accelerator to give Japan-based, social entrepreneurships an “unfair advantage to scale and succeed.” Most recently, Emi spoke at TEDxRoppongi to encourage more young female participation in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).
At the very end of our interview, we wrapped up our conversation with key words of wisdom from a Japanese female entrepreneur’s perspective. Read until the end to learn the two main takeaways.
Introducing Kay Deguchi, Owner Of Ochanomizu, An Innovative Orthopedic Rehab Center – Part I
This interview was so juicy with phenomenal content that I ended up splitting it into two parts. In this first blog post, I will introduce her and her chosen field, as well as share a life lesson that she imparted on me. Enjoy Part I! Skip ahead to Part II, if you want to read abut the advice she shares to female entrepreneurs.
Kay Deguchi, owner of Ochanomizu Orthopoedic Clinic — an innovative rehab center, is an exceptional entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience in pharmaceuticals, medicine, medical devices, and even media companies such as Disney, Kay is extremely knowledgeable and brings a diverse set of skills to her chosen field of interest.
Introducing Kanoko Oishi, Founder Of Mediva — Making A Positive Impact In The Healthcare World
A down-to-earth female entrepreneur with quite an accomplished background, Kanoko Oishi received her BA at Osaka University before earning her MBA at Harvard. Through Harvard’s network, she also met and inspired Kay Deguchi, the founder of Ochanomizu Orthopaedic Clinic.
Upon graduating Harvard, Kanoko Oishi joined McKinsey consulting company and worked there for 12 years. Her role focused on how companies can make themselves more customer-oriented. Incredibly dedicated to her work, and highly intelligent, she quickly rose to the role of partner.
As the 2nd female partner ever, she had the freedom to work on projects that she cared about the most. As such, Kanoko focused on making a positive impact in the world of healthcare. Specifically, she wanted to help hospitals become more patient-oriented.
Introducing Yuka Fujii, Founder Of Famarry — The Premier Platform For Discovering & Meeting The Best Photographers!
A young, captivating, and highly intelligent woman, Yuka Fujii is the founder of a uniquely positioned startup. Famarry blends the words “family” and “marriage” to capture the heart of the business idea. An online platform that matches couples with their ideal wedding and family photographer, Famarry’s mission is to help couples realize their vision for their ideal wedding and family photography.
As many Americans say, the most important decision you need to make to realize your photography vision, is selecting your photographer! With the right photographer, your vision for your wedding or family photographer, the dream image becomes a reality.
Yuka's vision for Famarry is to become a global “Airbnb for photographers.”
Her 3-year plan is to make her business profitable and expand globally. Currently, the majority of her clients are Japanese, but she also has Taiwanese and Hong Kong couples, all of whom find their ideal photographer on Famarry. With their selected photographer, the couples go all over the world to shoot their dream photos.
Introducing Mariko Fukui, CEO At Aalto International — A Global Branding & PR Firm!
On a routine day at Kyoto University, I met with one of the most fascinating and driven entrepreneurs I have ever met. Not only is she an incredibly warm individual, but Mariko Fukui has accomplished a tremendous amount in her mere 28 years of life — the highlight being Aalto International, the company she launched at the age of 25. Before we get to her current endeavors, let’s take a look at her journey.
Mariko Fukui's Career Path
Right after graduating from Doshisha University in Kyoto, Mariko began working at a PR agency in the Hakuhodo group in Japan, where she learned the art of perseverance and hard work. It was not uncommon for her to begin her workday at 7AM and finish around midnight, making her miss the last train home, and pay her own money for a taxi.
Despite these incredibly challenging circumstances, Mariko now knows and still appreciates the experience as the foundation to her career. However, she soon realized that she needed a brand new challenge. At the mere age of 24, Mariko Fukui made a life-changing decision — move to Singapore and help launch the local office of a Japanese company.