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Date of publication: Aug 26, 2019

Sarah Furuya

Founder and Coach
Sarah Furuya Coaching
https://www.sarahfuruya.com/

Date of birth: Sept. 18, 1971

Hometown: Liverpool, England

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 18 (as of August 2019)

Sarah Furuya
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

Besides having played a little maid in my high school version of “The Mikado,” and attending the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Japanese and British co-directed “King Lear,” I had very little very little contact with Japan until I boarded a plane in May 2001. I chose not to read any books about Japan, opting to read Haruki Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood” on the flight. I was captivated from day one.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

“Hold the paradox.” As a coach I listen to people’s stories every day and the ability to hold the paradox is an essential one for any degree of success in life. Things are rarely black and white and seeking absolutes, especially in the cross-cultural and global environments is guaranteed stress and suffering. The ability to hold opposing ideas and ideals and work cognitive dissonance is the path to peace and influence.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

Starting the coaching business and designing a life to accommodate my preferred work styles while using it as a model for meeting the needs of clients. I love having my own business and the work I do. Coaching in business and life is an honor and privilege, and watching people achieve the goals we crafted is both thrilling and humbling; so too is bearing witness to the inevitable grief and joy in life.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

To become increasingly part of a sustainable group of people who are adding more generosity, community and fun into our surroundings, and to feel and create more belonging in the real offline world. Continue to be a creative force for conscious consumption, quality consumption and in-person community through the clothing exchange swaps I organize in Tokyo. Eventually, move to the sea, swim every day and live simply in a community.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

Everybody is right, only partially. Listen carefully and seek out the 2 percent of truth in all opinions and interactions, especially those that are in opposition to your own. Cultural norms have great wisdom in them, but don’t seek to “fit in.” Seek to understand the cultural norms and find how to feel a sense of belonging. Be at home, find your place and navigate the nuances, be kind, polite and smart about knowing the cultural norms and the “time, place occasion,” but don’t fit in. Don’t fight the social constructs — they are stronger and more aged than you. Moreover know them and know yourself and find a way to be a fully expressed and contributing member of your communities and groups. Expect cross-cultural differences to be the gift that keeps giving, especially in workplaces, families, friendships and marriages and again, find places where you belong. Your behaviors will speak much louder than your words in Japan.

Last updated: Aug 28, 2019