Name: Chie Suzuki
Age: 41
Nationality: Japanese
Occupation: Wooden clog designer
Likes: Games, anime, creative activities
Dislikes: Feeling pressured or hurried into finishing work

1. What do the kanji that comprise your first name mean? Would you say they match your personality? Until recently, I thought my kanji meant “to receive” 1,000 blessings, but it actually means “to give” 1,000 blessings. In fact, I am the one who feels blessed to have been supported by so many people in my life.

2. What do you love about living in Shizuoka? The weather and the fact that many of my family members and friends live close by. Also, the conveyor-belt sushi here is delicious.

3. Where do you go to escape Shizuoka? I go abroad. I want to see things I have never seen before.

4. Whom in Japan do you most admire? (Ukiyo-e painter) Utagawa Kuniyoshi. I feel a real connection with him because I learned he loved cats — just like me. What’s more, the imagination captured in his artworks is phenomenal.

5. What is one thing in your life you can’t replace? My cat. If I am ever feeling exhausted or overwhelmed by work, my cat is always by my side to cheer me up.

6. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be? Utagawa Kuniyoshi. I’ve heard he used to draw paintings while holding his cat. I’d love to hear about this as well as other cat stories.

7. What is your comfort food? Sushi. Shizuoka Prefecture faces the ocean and the fish here is really good.

8. You make a unique style of geta (wooden clogs). What do geta mean to you? Geta are just one medium that allows me to draw.

9. From where do you draw your inspiration? Things from my everyday life: movies I watch, plants I pass, etc. I find inspiration in my daily routine.

10. What is the most exciting thing you have experienced when making geta? I always get excited when I draw and create new things. Making geta is just one way I can achieve this.

11. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? I can not recall any strange requests, but I have gotten a few vague requests before, such as “I don’t mind if I can’t wear the geta, just make the design funny.”

12. Do you think a woman working in a male-dominated industry has certain advantages or certain disadvantages? Even if I was male, I think I would have gone through the same struggles as a woman. I haven’t felt any advantages or disadvantages because I am a woman.

13. How do you relax when you aren’t working? I’m always thinking about what to make next, whether I’m playing games or playing with my cat. I’m constantly using my imagination. Whether I ever get around to making it or not ultimately depends on my mood.

14. Aside from yukata (summer kimono), what other outfits do you recommend people to wear with geta? I actually want everyone to wear my geta with their normal outfits because there aren’t too many occasions in which we can wear yukata. My goal is for people to replace their sandals with my geta and wear them daily.

15. Would hanabi (fireworks displays) be different without geta? I don’t think hanabi would be any different if there are no geta because many people still wear yukata without geta. In fact, I want to separate the image of people having to wear geta and yukata at hanabi, and encourage people to wear geta with their everyday clothes.

16. What song best describes your work ethic? I don’t usually listen to music, but I like a song by Taro Hakase called “Jonetsu Tairikui” (“Passion Continent”). It is also the opening song for a documentary program bearing the same name. All the people featured in the program are brilliant.

17. Who would win a fight between a lion and tiger? They would both win (or both lose). Both animals seem strong so if a lion and a tiger were to truly fight, it would end in a tie.

18. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? I would like it to be titled “Chi-den: Inside the Brain of Chie Suzuki.”

19. What do you want to be when you grow up? Someone who writes cat stories.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? When I get bored of one thing, I like to do all sorts of new and different things. As a result, the myriad experiences I have had in my life now form the basis for a lot of my ideas. It’s important to do what you want to do, no matter what others around you may say.

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