Category Archives: SOCIETY

Bringing Purpose To Trailing Spouses With Coach Jodi Harris

World Tree Coaching turns five this month. For its globetrotting founder, Jodi Harris, it’s a time to celebrate what she has achieved and, as she prepares for another expat placement next year, to reflect on the strong sense of self and of home required to run a global business.

Growing up in a small town in Texas, Harris, 41, longed to explore the world, so moving from country to country for her husband’s job has always part excitement, part joy. But as a trailing spouse, she soon realized that her experience abroad wasn’t just a fun adventure. She was facing a number of challenges, too, not least the difficulty in pursuing her own career. Knowing that she wasn’t the only one struggling, she decided to start a business to help other expats develop their ideas and turn their life abroad — no matter how short it is — into something beyond just an experience.

After stints in Washington DC, the Dominican Republic and Madagascar, she arrived in Tokyo in 2013, making it her family’s longest expat assignment so far. Naturally, Harris’ experience living as a globally mobile person appealed to the city’s large expat community and her business bloomed. Savvy Tokyo sat down with her to uncover how she runs her business and what other globally mobile people can learn from her experience.

Why did you set up World Tree Coaching?

I was a clinical social worker in the United States and really loved my work. When we went overseas for the first time, I worked for a non-profit organization in my field, but it was really difficult to get passionate about the job for two years and then have to abandon it. I started researching ways that I could transition into something more portable. Coaching seemed flexible, so I decided to train …continue reading


"A photographer took pictures of people at 7am and then again 7pm"

Text and images from (2016). Photos by Barbara Iweins.

Five years ago, Amsterdam-based street fashion photographer Barbara Iweins decided that she wanted to get to know the fascinating strangers she captured on camera.

So she did.

‘Au Coin de ma Rue’, or ‘At the Corner of my Street’, is a multi-year project exploring how Iweins’ relationship with her subjects has changed as she got to know them better. Iweins told indy100:

“At first it was a selfish sociological experiment. I thought that meeting them a few times in my life would not change my perspective towards them. But very quickly, a feeling of trust and complicity started to grow. I realised that’s what happens when people are no longer anonymous people any more. We start caring for them.”

The yearly portraits – with possessions, friends, and hugging Iweins herself – are intimate and lively.

Perhaps the most striking is year four, where Iweins photographed her subjects at 7am, when they’d just woken up, and 7pm.

Either they spent the night at Iweins’, or she went around to wake them up:

“Entering their place as a burglar to wake them up was… quite an experience.”

“The funny small thing I realised is that I thought I would have 20 minutes to shoot the expression of a person waking up but actually no, the uninhibited glaze in the eyes of a person disappears in five minutes… Behind my camera I could really see in a matter of seconds that the person was taking his face, his body back in control. The vulnerable human being was gone.”

Check out all of the photos:


These photos remind me of the Wine Project: What happens after a busy and stressful day at …continue reading


Organic Supermarkets in Osaka

Japan doesn’t have Whole Foods, but we do have other organic food stores. If you are seeking organic or natural foods in Osaka, try one of the options below!

Natural House

Organic vegetables, fresh foods, wine and beers, vegetable ice cream, supplements, cosmetics, etc.
Telephone: 06-6485-7895
Address: Umekita Hiroba B1F, 4-1 Ofuka-cho Kita-ku Osaka (map link)
Open Hours: 10:00-22:00


Organic foods and wines, gelatos, nuts butter, cafe etc. They have rice-cleaning mill.
Telephone: 06-6447-5511
Address: 3-5-18 Utsubohonmachi Nishi-ku Osaka (map link)
Open Hours: 10:00-22:00


Additive‐free foods, organic foods and seasonings, detergents, supplements and cosmetics, etc.
Telephone: 06-6458-6400
Address: 1-2-25 Fukushima, Fukushia-ku, Osaka (map link)
Open Hours: Mon-Sat. 9:30-18:30 (Closed: Sunday and National holidays)


Organic vegetables, fruits and rice, box lunch with brown rice, natural yeast bread, cosmetics, etc.

Telephone: 06-6231-1341
Address: 3-2-3 Kawaramachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka (map link)
Open Hours: Mon-Fri. 11:00-19:30 (Closed: Saturday, Sunday and National holidays)

Musubi Garden

Organic vegetables and foods, additive‐free foods, egg and dairy-free cakes, etc.

Otedori shop
Telephone: 06-6945-0618
Address: 1F 2-2-7 Otedori, Chuo-ku, Osaka (map link)
Open Hours: Mon-Sat. 10:00-19:00, Sun. and holidays 10:00-18:00


Organic cosmetics and foods, Doctor’s cosmetics, etc.
Telephone: 06-6484-7533
Address: Grand Maison Nishishinsaibashi #101, 4-10-20 Minamisenba, Chuo-ku, Osaka (map link)
Open Hours: 11:00-20:00 (Closed: Wednesday)

Image by Original: lyzadangerDerivative work: Diliff ( [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

…continue reading


Teetotallers totally typical things

You’ve probably seen lots of photos on the internet of passed-out salarymen, but have you ever been curious about what sober people get up to? No? Oh well, have this survey from Goo Ranking regardless, where they look at typical behaviours of non-drinkers.

As an ex-vegetarian, I can identify with a number of the answers as explaining being a veggie got very tiring; if I hadn’t minded the white lie, the best answer is just “religious reasons”. The true answer involved one flatmate’s awful cooking, Morrissey, ripping chicken legs off (shop-bought cuts, not live hens!), and, in a very roundabout way, religion.

Note that in Japan there are a lot of all-you-can-drink offers; almost every izakaya (traditional restaurant/pub mash-up thing) offers set menus with optional all-you-can-drink add-ons from about 1,000 to 2,000 yen, so most office booze-ups end up at these kinds of places.

If you thought sweet cigarettes were bad (I believe they are banned these days in many countries), in Japan as well as Chanmeri (fake champagne aimed at kids), we have this drink which they used to call “Beer for Kids”, but now perhaps to be more socially acceptable is just “Drink for Kids”:

Fun fact: 0% beer-like drinks from beer manufacturers (even completely 0.00% fizzy hops tea) require you to be over 20 to purchase.

Ranking results

Q: What are stereotypical behaviours of non-drinkers on a night out? (Sample size=2,190)

Rank Votes
1 They end up as the designated driver 283
2 They don’t drink, but like beer nibbles 224
3 They don’t know how great beer tastes 193
4 It’s difficult to split the bill since they don’t drink 187
5 They turn red as soon as they touch alcohol 174
6 People trying to get them to drink are a pain 124
7 They cannot get into the swing of things once everyone gets a little merry 110

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Letters From Japan: “My Japanese Boyfriend Wants A Break — What Should I Do?”

Sudden Break

Hi Hilary. I’ve been dating my Japanese boyfriend for around a year and a half and recently we almost broke up. Instead of breaking up, however, my boyfriend wanted to “take a break” for one to two months. I feel totally lost. He struggles to come to grips with his feelings and has ignored me for over a week in the past because he couldn’t understand his own feelings.

I don’t really know what to do and even how to feel. I’m trying to be hopeful that the relationship will work out but I have a feeling it won’t and I’ll be heartbroken. One to two months of pain, confusion and feeling lost and it may result in a heartbreak all over again. How do I prepare myself for that? It feels impossible… — Impossible Waiting

Dear Impossible Waiting,

Being asked to take a break from a relationship or needing some time alone yourself is difficult, but sadly, a rather common situation all over the world — and couples dating in Japan are not an exception.

Although you probably find yourself only thinking of him now, a good way to approach the situation is by treating this time apart like a real breakup — it will help to reset your emotions.

You said that he struggles with his own feelings, and needs time to sort them out — are you doing the same thing while he’s gone? If he’s using this time to seriously consider your relationship, his life goals, work conditions and whatever it is that is having him worried, then I would suggest doing the same thing for yourself. Easier said than done, but ultimately this is the only thing you can do: focus on yourself.

Don’t think about your life strictly in terms of him …continue reading