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Author Bio

Karen LinkedIn2

I left the United States for the first time when I was 19. I went to Europe and traveled around for a year (mostly hitchhiking by myself — then it was possible). The experience of traveling, seeing new countries and experiencing new cultures, making friends, eating their food, and hanging out by canals and in cafes completely changed me. I simply haven’t been the same since.

In 1974 when Billy asked me if I’d like to go to Japan I said “Sure.” I had no hesitation whatsoever. With daughter Nanao, then 5-years old, we first went to Europe to visit friends and travel around: Belgium, France, England, Wales, Scotland, and the Scandinavian countries. We set out for the East from northern Italy. In our trusty and rusty old VW Bug, we drove across the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey, and border to border in Iran and Afghanistan. After visiting Pakistan, India, Nepal and Thailand, we arrived in Japan on June 1, 1975.

We settled in Shizuoka and have now lived most of our lives here. With the exception of our eldest daughter Nanao, who was born in Denmark, our other children, Mie, Mario, and Lila were all born in Japan.

I started publishing columns in 1983 for the regional edition of the newspaper Chunichi Shimbun. My columns, generally a commentary on everything from public education to the role of women, community living and child raising, appeared for 14 years.

I started writing these “Crossing Cultures” columns for The Japan Times shortly after we bought land and built our house here. I realized then that there weren’t many couples, in which both were foreigners, who had laid down roots here quite as firmly as we had. Of course I knew there must be some — I just didn’t personally know any, and thought readers might like to know what life here was like from the perspective of an American woman, married to an American, raising a family in provincial Japan. Many people were indeed interested, and the column proved to be a hit. It lead to numerous invitations to lecture to business, educational and civic organizations in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, as well as serve on an advisory committee of the Prime Minister.

Somehow during this time, when I was meeting five deadlines a month, I managed to I write a novel and a memoir (both unpublished).

Since 2000 I have been engaged as a consultant, facilitator, and developer of corporate training programs, mostly focusing on diversity and inclusion and cross-cultural competence. Additionally, I do executive and lifestyle coaching.

I love to dance and will dance anywhere anytime there is good music!

I love to travel, and Billy and I spend a part of most summers in Europe. The U.S. is also a favorite destination.

I love Japanese calligraphy. I achieved ni-dan (second-level mastery) after more than 20 years of study. These days I do it for fun, creating gifts for family and friends.

I love to knit — and every fall and winter I turn out sweaters, scarves, blankets, hats, socks — for family and friends.

I love to read. I read a lot. All the time. (If you want to know what I’m reading now, ask me.)

A good time (the best time!) for me is being with family, friends, eating good food, drinking wine (not a necessity but a pleasure) … listening to jazz … talking … laughing … hanging out!

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