• Magical Mindshifts

    Discovery your inner power, build a business and life you love. More

  • Sheer Determination

    Kay's NEW book chronicles her 40+ years building a socially responsible business. More

  • Keiko's Journey

    Kay's Memoir about growing up between two worlds and uncovering family secrets. More

  • Yumi's Life Lessons

    Newly revised and updated, Kay's first book of inspiration. More

Stepping into the New Year, Embracing Childhood Memories

My childhood memories of the year-end traditions, while growing up in Kyushu, Japan always flood my mind this time of the year.

I went through culture shock when I arrived in America at the age of eleven and saw how differently people in America celebrated the coming of the new year. Lively new year’s eve parties, waking up late on January first and watching football games on TV while munching on various party foods was so foreign to me. 

The older I get, the more I cherish my childhood memories and the tradition of “starting new with a fresh mindset.” It’s such a good feeling to get enough sleep and rise early on January first, refreshed and ready to face the coming year.

Love is Kind artwork

My favorite thing about celebrating the New Year in Japan was to dress up in a colorful kimono and visit the nearby temple. I wrote my wishes for the coming year on a piece of rice paper and hung them on the large tree that stood in the temple’s ground. I can still remember the birds on the branches and few stray cats who came up to me asking to be fed.

New Years Memories Growing Up in Kokura

Starting at the first of December, Mother would say, “Keiko, we are going through each room in our house to clean every nook and corner. Here’s a check-list so be a good girl and do your part.” Without an argument, I helped Mother clean all the shoji-screens, de-cluttered the drawers in every room and scrubbed marks off the walls.

Mother’s To-Do list for me read like this:

  • Do you owe anybody money? Pay it back.
  • Did you say mean words to any of your friends? Apologize.
  • Did you mean to do a kind act for someone? If not, do it now.
  • Do you have any unfinished homework or projects? Complete them.
  • Did you think about what you will do in the coming year to become a better person? Write them down and bring them with you when we go to visit the temple.

After I finished my to-do list, it was time to relax and enjoy the coming of the new year on the evening of December 31. Mother and I sat in our clean house and enjoyed eating a traditional bowl of buckwheat noodles topped with grated mountain potatoes. While the slippery noodles went down our throats, we listened to the faraway sounds of the temple bells as it rang out the exact number of the year we were about to enter.

Mother said, “Keiko, soba noodles are the last to enter your stomach this year. This is cleansing. You will start out the new year with a clean body and a clear mind.”

I loved getting up early on New Year’s Day. Mother dressed me in a colorful kimono and we visited the temple and prayed for a good year so we would have the fortune to maintain good relationships, health and wealth. After that, we went home, ready to have fun playing children’s games with the neighborhood children and eating traditional New Year’s food which Mother prepared. 

Japanese new years is called Shogatsu, that lasted for three days (Jan 1st – 3rd). 

I still take this tradition seriously and try my best to follow through as much as I can with the list my Mother made for me. 

Why not try to follow this list, or something similar, for yourself? I guarantee it will make you feel so much better. Out with the old and in with the new!

2020 New Year

Intentions

Here we are, entering a new year plus a new decade. What’s on your mind? One thing for sure, the year will slip by quickly without any results if we don’t create INTENTIONS. Don’t let your coming year slip by without a plan. Let’s all make sure that joy and happiness are infused in each day of 2020!

Word of the Year

FLOW…
This is the word I chose for 2020. I don’t want to keep struggling upstream. I want to enter every decision I make and everything I do to have a smooth, flowing energy.
Did you choose your word for this year? Please share it with me in the comment section below.

two birds flying

How I Make My Angels

I want to share a story of why I became enamored with Angels. Living in the aftermath of World War II in Kokura, Japan was not easy for me. Even for a little kid like me, I knew how hunger made my stomach ache. I asked my mother, “Will this go on forever?” She replied, “Keiko, I’ll have to show you how to believe in Angels. There is a special Angel who is keeping watch over you. But you must sit very still and think of how you want things to be…clear your mind by removing your thoughts of fear and anger out of your head and heart… invite love and hope instead. This is when I learned to find angels who were readily around me when I called out to them for help.

Angels

Angels are here to protect you. They are all around you so look for them.

Always remember that an Angel exists within each one of us. So why not be an Angel to others who need guidance from an Angel?

Angels are good either way.

Angels remain my most cherished girls. I draw, paint, and make things using the Angel as a metaphore. Lately, I’ve been making Angel ornaments. I gave one to a friend who was going through a hard time in life. She was elated when she received the sweet Angel ornament. “I know there are Angels, but I forget. This ornament stays hanging by my kitchen window. Every morning I gaze at her angelic face and she reminds me that I am never alone. She gives me the courage to face the day”.

This kind of feedback gives me the motivation to keep creating my Angel ornaments. Here’s a quick motion video on how I make them.

Here are more hand-made ornaments that you can purchase in my salon, Studio 904 Hair Design in Mercer Island, WA. or by clicking the SHOP tab above. Still in time for year-end gift-giving.

Season of Giving

I believe that powerful collective energy emerges when we connect and work toward a common goal of helping those in need.

In this season of giving, my business, Studio 904, focuses on our annual Angels for the Animals campaign. I’m proud to say that over the 13 years that we have held this event, we’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars for several local animal welfare organizations: Pasado’s Safe Haven, Ginger’s Pet Rescue, The Old Dog Haven, and Precious Life Animal Sanctuary.


Ignite Sparks of Compassion & Joy

Looking for a unique holiday gift to inspire a friend? Feeling stuck and want to unleash your own inner power? The beautifully designed Magical Mindshifts card deck is full of inspirational words that are accompanied by whimsical, creative artwork. Each of the 56 cards in the deck contains an everyday word that can be used as a tool to help you see things in a totally different way. All of them are designed to create a mental shift away from the usual way you approach life to one that encourages you to open your mind.

Magical Mindshifts card deck

One of the Worst Moments of My Life

Two weeks ago, I promised that I would share another painful story with you. This unforgettable story is written in my book, Sheer Determination, Swimming Upstream in a Downstream World. When I was writing this book, I felt vulnerable sharing a story that I felt so shameful about but I forced myself to write it, hoping that it will help someone who might have gone through a similar experience.

Here is my story. plus a video.

I have a favor to ask you. Will you let me know if you’ve gone through a humiliating story similar to what I’ve gone through in your own life?

Share Your Story

Happy Halloween Day to you!. You’re probably getting your costume ready and/or your children’s’ costumes ready, you may be making last minute runs to the store for candy or you may be doing none of these things because Halloween isn’t your thing and you’d rather have a relaxing day and evening at home. Me? Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday because I’m the worst coward when it comes to ghosts and goblins. I have too many unpleasant memories of me shortly after I arrived to the U.S. from Japan at the age of 11. My cousins pushed me into the haunted houses on Halloween eve. It was especially scary since I never knew anything about this weird holiday called Halloween!

I was looking through my card deck early this morning and I saw this card titled, “SHARE YOUR STORY”. I thought the saying on this card is so appropriate for Halloween and I wanted to share it with you to get your creative energy going.

I’ve always kept myself from revealing my unpleasant experiences, even from my close friends or family members. I figured this is because there were so many things that were kept secret from me during my childhood years in Japan. The Japanese culture is engrained in “keeping things under the rug” and never reveal stories that are shameful or embarrassing. I started a new life in America at the age of 11. I even tried harder not to expose myself to the students in my school. I did a good job of not revealing things … like my step-father was abusive to my mother and so many unpleasant memories I had of living in a war-zone during World War II. I never told anyone that my Father who I never knew was killed in the Philippine Islands, fighting for the Japanese Navy. Keeping secrets for many years definitely took a toll on me. I felt like I was carrying a two ton sack of unwanted weight on my back everyday. One day, I decided to get rid of my load and spent the next two years writing my memoire titled KEIKO’S JURNEY. It was a hard book to write but fighting back the tears, I forced myself to write the truth. Writing my story proved to be the best thing I ever did. I was surprised when people from all over the world contacted me and told me their stories which they’ve kept locked-up in their hearts.

This is my wish for you today. Tell someone your story that you’ve kept in your head all these years. It can be a childhood memory or something that happened in recent years. You will be surprised how the person who listens to your story will open up and share his/her story too. A wonderful way to get to know the person better and you will build a relationship on a deeper level. Try it and share your story with me.

Coming soon… I will share with you a true story, “ONE OF THE WORST MOMENTS IN MY LIFE