In this conversation I talk with Junko from Tokyo, whom I met during a Taiko drum workshop in Japan. We connected immediately and I‘m very happy to have this talk with Junko in which she gives us insights in how «living the life you want» looks for her in Japan.
Junko Suzuki lived in England as a child and was an English teacher in Japan, until she quit her job 4 years ago to travel. At the age of 7 she already knew that she would travel the world one day and she made her dream come true. So far she has been to 33 countries and is eager to discover more of the world. One of the highlights during her travels was New Year‘s Eve in Germany, where she played the Taiko drum with a friend in a small Japanese garden, surrounded by the fireworks. «It was magical».
Junko is now located in Tokyo where she does all sorts of creative things like little clay art figures that are inspired by old Japanese traditional characters, Taiko drum workshops, origami and much more.
I ask Junko, how she brings joy into her everyday life.
Junko says, that she‘ll have a guesthouse in Tokyo, where she wants to host people from all over the world which makes her happy, she enjoys playing the Japanese drums, she does calligraphy and writes letters back and forth with friends and she likes to do Origami which is a Japanese paper folding art. Her suggestion for those who want to try Origami out is for example the cat or dog face, or the goldfish. I‘ll share some links below. There is also the famous crane, which is a little bit more difficult to do but it‘s such a nice feeling when you manage to fold one. : )
Junko also mentions small origami boxes which inspire me to fold some boxes with a piece of chocolate and a kind note on it, to spread them randomly among strangers. These random acts of kindness are something that I‘m a big fan of, I also tell you about them in the free Joy Challenge (sign up HERE) or in the blog post about giving freely without expectations.
I ask Junko how she keeps her positive attitude and she says, that she likes to walk through streets that she‘s never been to before and to visit shrines, of which you will find countless in Japan. She also likes to read a lot, novels, self-help books like «Happy Money» from Ken Honda and spiritual books and she also likes to look up photos of dinosaurs and other old animals, so cool! : )
Junko retired early and now teaches English conversation over zoom, which allows her to do all those fun things throughout the day. That is so awesome and exactly what I wish all of us:
I can‘t stop being amazed how Junko managed to fulfill her dreams of how she wants to live her life in a country like Japan. Japan is very dear to my heart, I‘ve lived there and my husband is Japanese, but I imagine that it takes a loooot of courage to step out of the hamster wheel of working from early to late every day. I‘m intrigued to know, how Junko found the courage to leave the safety net and quit a job with a guaranteed salary.
Junko says that she has some friends, who retired early and started their own thing. They seemed so happy about it, so she wanted it too. Following that and her dream about travelling the world, she took the plunge.
I found myself in a similar situation when I quit my teacher job (although I feel that if the difficulty level to do that is a 10 in Japan, it‘s a 4 in Switzerland : )), but the wish to be my own boss and to do what I love the most was so strong, that doing it was simple non-negotiable.
Junko tells me about 恩返し – ongaeshi – which means repayment of a favor or a kindness. She always loved teaching and is super grateful about the work she was able to do and the connections she made, so she wanted to pay something back. The way she does that is by going into schools from elementary up to university and doing the «future me» exercise that is part of the Joy Challenge (link) too, by drawing manga or illustrations. The students draw themselves, how they are now and they write down what they aren‘t able to do now and then they draw themselves in 3 months or in 1 year, how they will look like, what they will do and how they will feel when they‘re able to achieve the things they want. In the Joy Challenge we do it with a meditation. I really love this exercise, you have to try it out, it‘s magical. : ) You ask yourself, what YOUR perfect life would be.
«It‘s so powerful: When you know what you want and who you want to be, everything is possible», Ronja
«If you love what you do, you inspire yourself and you inspire the world», Ronja
We talk about negative reactions to when you do your own thing. Junko says that she doesn‘t get a lot of these and I answer, that she probably doesn‘t care that much too, to which she agrees.
This is something crucial too, if you do your thing and you let others do their thing without expecting, that they do your thing too, having that self-confidence is like a bubble around you that shields you from negativity.
When you have a positive attitude, everybody can visit or talk to you. You will enjoy the encounter anyway and the other person might be annoyed by your good mood or actually really inspired.
I ask Junko, how she deals with challenges and fears. She says, that as she‘s growing older, she is worried, because she has no family and she wants to make more money too. But Junko says that she acknowledges those fears and then goes directly into action. She needs more money? She‘ll work harder then.
«Action is always chasing away the fear», Ronja
Junko says, that she wants to have a lot of money to be able to donate where ever she goes. We share this vision, because money is so powerful and if used wisely can change so much.
As I‘m not a big fan of working harder, because I‘m sure that when you do what you love, you‘ll be able to make money with that, I tell Junko about «The Big Leap» by Gay Hendricks, where you have 4 zones:
1. Zone of Incompetence: You‘re not good at it and other people can do it better.
2. Zone of Competence: You‘re able to do it, but others can do it better.
3. Zone of Excellence: You‘re very good at it and others can‘t hold up with you.
4. Zone of Genius: You‘re the best at doing it. : )
My and Junko‘s Zone of Excellence is probably teaching whereas doing something creative is our Zone of Genius. When you find your Zone of Genius, work doesn‘t feel like work anymore and money will start to flow with ease.
We talk a bit about Junko‘s plans with the home, that she‘s renting out. She doesn‘t live there, but she does all the maintenance by herself, because she really wants to meet and connect with her guests. The house is located in «Katsushika» which is 4, 5 stations from the famous «Asakusa» district in Tokyo. 4 people can stay at the same time and there is also a room to hold seminars or for Junko to do her workshops. As she‘s only allowed to have guests at 180 days per year, she has to rent it out the rest of time and plans to travel then. What a perfect combination!
«Everyday is like a canvas, you can choose the colors, the mood, the attitude, you can choose everyday», Ronja
Junko paints her picture beautifully.
Knowing that you have the power is so powerful. First you have to have an idea of how you want to live and what you want to do and then you have to go into action. Most important is, that you take good care of yourself along the way. I ask Junko about her self-care routine.
That is meditating, jogging, cooking her own meals, sleeping well, being creative, reading books, making friends…
Everyone is so special and everybody has their own way, getting inspired by each other is exactly the idea of this podcast. Junko‘s message to the world emphasizes that:
You can do little changes within your immediate possibilities or big changes like Junko did, you have the power to create your own life. Join the free Joy Challenge that helps you get started with that.
«You are the most important person in your life, if you take good care of yourself you‘ll be able to give positive energy to others too», Ronja
You can find Junko here:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daisy_linda/ & https://www.instagram.com/tripbuddy_japan/
Junko’s house is currently not listed on AirBnB, but for those who want to book a stay, they can contact Junko via her website or her Social Media accounts listed above.
Resources we talked about:
Sign up HERE for the free Joy Challenge. : )
You can watch our conversation here:
This is the video from our Taiko workshop with Junko. The subtitles are in German, but you can still see Junko in action. : )
Junko with the Taiko drum.
Junko, Mika, me and another participant at the Taiko workshop in Tokyo.