You can usually find me in front of a computer scheming up a new article to post or tinkering with a website for one of my clients.
I wake up naturally at 5:00AM and usually finish the day around 10:00PM. I’m an avid learner and always in the middle of one or two online courses. If I’m not on my computer then I’m usually reading a book, taking a walk around Hachioji, cooking up a new cancer-fighting vegan dish or watching TV.
I own and run my own company and am proud to say that my work is 90% location independent. This means I can work from my living room in Tokyo, a local coffee shop, my sister’s dining room in Michigan or a beach in Bali. In reality, I spend most of my time working from my desk at home.
So, what do I do in my company? There are 3 main things I’m focused on right now:
- I blog (Does that count? It’s more for my benefit than anyone else!)
- I help people who have something special they want to share with the world and who need a website to do it.
- I help people who are having trouble hearing their own inner wisdom and who want a clear message from their guides.
And, because it’s a lot of fun and I’m good at it …
- I help people living all over the world (but especially in Japan) speak Japanese with more fluency by creating Japanese Chants
- I help American educational organizations who want a presence in Japan and need help navigating the language and culture to make it happen. For example, I assist IIE with the Japan-IMF Scholarship Program and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo with EducationUSA Academy.
Still want to know more?
Coming to Japan
I was born and raised in Washington State on the west coast of the U.S. and have been living in Japan for over 20 years. I’ve spent years teaching English and advising Japanese students who want to study in the States. I love interacting with my students, many of whom are now dear friends.
When I first came to Japan in 1992, I lived in Musashino City and studied at Asia University. I later studied at Tsukuba University and then moved back to Tokyo to work at Asia University. At AU, I helped coordinate international programs and in particular the Asia University America Program. I left AU in 1998, and after a series of jobs teaching, I decided to work for myself.
Starting a company and running a school!
In 2002, my husband, Akira Kobayashi, and I started IEB, Inc (有限会社国際教育企画) to provide support for students who want to study abroad. This included an English school we ran near Musashi-Sakai Station in Musashino. So, Musashino City is like a hometown for me in Tokyo. I still have ties to Musashino and currently serve on the Board of Trustees for the Musashino International Association.
During the first 10 years after starting the company, I spent most of my time focused on running and teaching in our school. We had 100+ students ranging from 4-80 years old. My husband was focused on providing support for students who wanted to study abroad. In 2011, we were selected to host an EducationUSA Advising Center, a program supported by the U.S. Department of State.
Working with EducationUSA was a big commitment and in 2013, I decided to close the English school and focus on study abroad advising. Then a surprising thing happened. I discovered most of the students and parents who wanted help with study abroad were contacting us with questions by phone, email, and Skype. Very few people came to the office so I made a bold decision to close the office and concentrate on these online platforms.
In July 2014, with the switch to virtual advising, we gave up our role hosting an EducationUSA Advising Center. Although we no longer host a center, both my husband
and I are trained advisers and still active with the EducationUSA network in Japan. We try to support their efforts whenever possible. For example, you can see me posing as an adviser in the video series put out by the U.S. Embassy Tokyo.
Virtually finding my way
Making the decision to go virtual opened so many doors for me and helped me prepare for a new way of life. Within a few months of closing our brick and mortar office I had to make a trip to my husband’s hometown in Hiroshima to help care for his parents because Akira was teaching full time at Meiji University and couldn’t go himself. All I needed was a computer and internet access so I worked from the mountains of Hiroshima for a few weeks. Then, less than 6 months later his parents moved to Tokyo so we could provide them with full support. Having a virtual business makes working from home possible. Having a reason I must be at home makes it possible to create a virtual business. They go hand in hand.
While learning to reinvent and grow my business online I discovered I love building websites. I also love making videos and posting them to YouTube. I also love making connections and sharing in Facebook groups. I love taking pictures and sharing my finds on Instagram. Through these online platforms I found people all over the world opening up to and sharing their gifts. They gave me the courage to open up and share my gifts. I still feel like I am at the beginning but even if I’m merely one step ahead, I hope my work will help others find the same kind of courage.