Co President of Japan Festival Boston; Co President, Tewassa; President, GrayMist Enterprises Inc.; CEO, GrayMist Japan Inc.: CEO
Q. What is Boston for you?
A. Boston is my city, and it is also my home. I started my career here, and where I raised my children. I came to Boston because my former partner had to move to Boston for work, so we moved the entire family. It’s been 24 years since we’ve moved here, and we’re all living a fulfilling life and Boston is a great city for that. It’s a fantastic environment for balancing work and life (unlike Japan), and there are plenty of resources to do so. It was much more pleasant raising my children here, and society here is not about working yourself to death. It’s encouraged to take time off for yourself and family, and because of this I’ve been able to also dedicate my time to the Boston Japanese Business Association (formerly JREX) and Tewassa, as well as Japan Festival Boston.
Q. What do you do here in Boston?
A. I used to work for a advertising company in Japan, but I’ve began my career on my own here in Boston, and I started GrayMist Enterprises Inc. I work to introduce and teach the traditions and craft of Nantucket Basket weavers to Japan. In Japan there are about 100 classrooms, about 90 instructors, and upwards of 2000 students. I’ve been able to share this craft with many people because of what I do. I’ve shown work on Nantucket Island as well as in Japan. It wasn’t an instant success though. I went to a wedding on the island and I was immediately drawn to the baskets, but I was not able to immediately apprentice to learn the craft. It took me 5 years of visiting the island and artists there to apprentice. I was balancing work, raising my children, and basket weaving. I had spent so much time on my own learning how to weave, so after two years, I was able to begin GrayMist and begin teaching people around me how to make baskets. Even after I began GrayMist, the craftspeople of Nantucket island did not accept me as one of their own- it’s only recently that they have began to recognise me, and I had a show last year featuring Nantucket Baskets as a new Japanese Craft. I’m still living that excitement now.
Q. What Is Japan Festival Boston To you?
A. It’s a place where I meet people that consider Japan to be home, and for our visitors to learn about our first home – Japan. It’s a place and time for understanding and cultural exchange. I’ve been working on the festival since the first event, and this is my 6th event. I am now co-chair of the executive committee, and I am one of two people responsible for the event, not just in the planning but also in the team building. I make sure that the event planning process is well managed and is easy for everyone to participate, and help to make our meetings more efficient. I want our team members to have a fulfilling experience and have fun with the event planning and working as a team, and also have fun on the day of the event. I want to bring a small sense of peace, or Wa to the event. Ignorance = Fear. I Believe that Curiosity and understanding will bring peace and happiness to the world. This is one of those opportunities for us and for our visitors.
A. This is an annual event where we get to see our audience have fun and learn more about Japanese culture, and promote understanding for a better world.
Without Etsuko we would not have had a workshop booth. We would not have had Japan Festival Boston as a whole. We thank you for your leadership and I hope that the festival does continue for years to come!