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Japanese Business Culture Blog

A blog about communications between Japan and other cultures, particularly in business.



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Introducing Myself—My Name Says it All
Mutsuyo Okumura
Aug 23, 2009 11:20 PM

My name, Mutsuyo, is so rare that people often misread the characters or mistake me for a man, but I like my name:  it set the course for my life.  It was chosen for me by my grandfathers, who came up with it together; the characters used to write it imply “intimate world” or “world peace.”  My grandfathers both had wartime experience and had traveled around the world on assignments.  They wanted me to grow up to contribute to the peace. 

When I turned seven, my aunt taught me some English songs and phrases.  Soon, my school teacher told me to sit next to a girl who had just returned from America and take care of her.  Apparently I was the only pupil in the second grade who knew some English.  Later, I corresponded in English with boys and girls on the five continents.  I learned that their school curricula were quite different from mine.  All this prepared me to expect the unexpected from people outside Japan. 

When I graduated from university, my English-speaking and typing skills helped me land a job at a European-Asian airline office (it handled two airlines).  It was a small operation, so I learned all aspects of running an international business and customer relations.  I communicated daily with my colleagues in Japan and around the world, and observed regional variations in behavior and cultural expectations.  Eventually, due to health problems caused by air pollution in Japan, I moved to New Zealand, where I married an American.  Later, we moved to Hawaii, where I saw how Japanese and Japanese-Americans live and work happily with people of many different ethnic backgrounds.  As a result of working for the FedEx Asian-Middle Eastern headquarters in Honolulu, I got to know something of the culture of the South, where FedEx is headquartered, and the Gulf States.  Later, we moved to the cosmopolitan Washington, D.C. area.  Currently, I live in Columbus, Ohio, where my husband teaches at Ohio State. 

 I also have professional background in teaching and translation.  I taught Japanese language and culture up to the university level in New Zealand and Hawaii, and have published Japanese translations of academic books.  In Columbus, I am the lead organizer for quarterly meetings of J-E translators and interpreters in Ohio and neighboring states.

 I’m delighted that I am able to assist both Japanese and Americans through Japan Intercultural Consulting and contribute to the world peace in a small way as my grandfathers wished many years ago.


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