Staff Interview Vol. 9: Akiko

Akiko Ono

Akiko is on the compliance team and she is also participating in the Mikoshi project. She is a raging ball of of energy – she teaches Phys. Ed. at the Boston Higashi School, a ski/snowboard instructor, she has 3 dan in kendo, is a licensed life guard/swim instructor and yoga instructor. She enjoys being active in her free time, often going fishing. She has traveled to 37 countries and is looking for people to travel with in the near future?! Akiko made our Mikoshi last year out of up-cycled materials and is a very important member of the festival.

Q. Why did you come to Boston?

A. I came to Boston to be involved with activities and programs that help improve the quality of life for people that have special needs. I am currently working at the Boston Higashi School (Randolph, MA) which is a school dedicated to educating students that are on the ASD spectrum. When I was working on an education panel in Japan, I was facing the challenge of education and methods of education and I wanted to learn more, so I chose to move to Boston. Boston is a city where medicine, education and special education and special needs support is well organized. I was studying special education at Lesley University and working with special needs students at Higashi now. I am teaching physical education to students there with the goal of bringing to them new experiences. For example, I set up a fundraiser to bring our students cross country skiing, and I’ve obtained various qualifications to do workshops and lessons for these students. My motivation is my students successes and their smiles and confidence. I’ll keep working with students to see them and their families have a good life that is successful on their terms.

Q. What do you like about Boston?

A. I like that there are a lot of very interesting people, and that there are four seasons in Boston! There’s Harvard, MIT, and a lot of other very well known schools. Professionals and students of medicine, special education, education, IT(and many more) are concentrated into the city and I think that Boston is great as a space to learn. I also love that there are four season, and there are lots of activities to be explored. There aren’t that many places on earth like Boston, where you can go hiking, skiing, go to the beach all within a couple of hours drive. I surf, kayak, go camping in the summer, forage for mushrooms, camp and go fishing in the autumn, snow sports in the winter, road racing, trekking, camping and fishing at sea in the spring. It’s great because I get to do what I enjoy doing very locally regardless of season.

Q.What is Japan Festival to you?

A. It’s a place and time where we get to share our thanks to the city and our community. My first festival was in 2011, when I made a mikoshi in response to the 3.11 disaster. My wish was for the relief and recovery process to go smoothly and the people in northern Japan to be well. This is our 6th year, but my feelings are the same. I hope for a full recovery in the North and I want to be the bridge between Japan and Boston with this festival. I also want our audience to have fun! I run work shops with Japanese toys, Mikoshi and Bon-Odori dance. I want my audience to learn and have fun while learning. I want to also make Japan Festival as safe of a space and event as I can.

Please come by with your friends and family. I look forward to seeing you all.