Makiko Oku / 奥 万喜子
I’ve been a civil diplomat between Japan and the United States for as long as I can remember. I grew up in San Diego and Sapporo and have accumulated a lot of mileage flying back and forth across the Pacific since I was six years old. I feel like I have many “homes” in the US and Japan, including Kyoto where I lived as a college student and the NYC area where I’ve been living for the past 17 years.
An academic by trade, I got my Ph.D. and did post-doctoral research on human rights and gender issues. Although I’m still passtionate about these topics and love teaching, I listened to my entrepreneurial spirit kicking in and made a career change — and here I am!
I am a Fellow at the US-Japan Leadership Program and AFIHJ/I-House Japan Next Generation Fellow. In 2014, I co-wrote a book in Japanese titled “Bicultural and the Japanese,” in which I argue how the Japanese people can be lead and communicate better in the globalized world. Most importantly, I am a mom of two amazing kids to whom I speak only in Japanese. I really hope they grow up to be bilingual and bicultural and be able to chat with their grandparents in Japanese.
Adam Gilbert / アダム・ギルバート
I am a native of New Jersey and spent my college years studying the history of the United States and the cultural movements that defined the American experience. Following college, I set out for two years backpacking around the Americas. I traversed South America by bus from Peru to the the southern tip of Patagonia and up through northern Brazil. I trekked overland through Central America to Mexico and back home. My travels have taken me to over 40 countries across five continents, and it is clear to say that my life has been defined by my travel experiences.
Japan is the one that I got stuck on. It is a country that at times feels frozen in time and at others like a glimpse into the future. It seems to have something for everyone. My travels across Japan are extensive from the lakes in Hokkaido to the onsen towns of Kyushu. My perfect day is any day in Japan that includes an early morning onsen soak, an izakaya in the late afternoon, and a day of walking and local experiences.
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