To Go Forward, Look Back at 2021

Are you looking forward to a great year, filled with joy, actions, and great relationships? Like you, I’m certainly ready for a good year. As I look back at 2021, I had a feeling that what I did so passionately didn’t seem to make much difference in helping people get to a greater place in life.

So I studied my Ikigai chart, trying to figure out what my Ikigai is…the reason why I get up in the mornings. Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy secret to living a long, happy, purpose-filled life. Here’s how it works:



Watch my video to find out how I finally figured out “DO WHAT YOU CAN BE REWARDED FOR”. It’s surprising, how I found my answer to the important question.

Now I feel completely rewarded for the work I’ve done and ready to make more exciting and worthwhile plans for 2022. Do you want to come with me?

I made a video of all the wonderful projects I made with my wonderful members of the Artful Giving Community in 2021. Please watch this video and I think you will agree that we all got a lot out of working together to create these wonderful art projects and gifted them to family, friends, community and the world.

Do you want to hear more about this wonderful community of like-minded people, making things with their hands? Check it out here: You can join now at a reduced price of only $15 per month.

January, Here We Come!

Happy New Year and let’s begin the adventure!

I wanted to welcome the New Year, 2022 with a positive and joyful mindset. The question I asked myself was, “What do I feel grateful for?” Ask yourself the same question and I can guarantee that you will not be able to write them all on one sheet of paper. Right?

This past year has been a challenge for all of us. Nobody knows exactly what will happen in 2022. As I write this, a new variant is causing numbers to spike again. What I do know for sure is that we are capable of adapting, coping, and thriving with these many changes TOGETHER.

To begin the new year, I thought it would be appropriate for me to pull one of the cards from my Magical Mindshifts card deck. I published this card deck two years ago but still review them regularly to keep my mindset going straight. I hope this card will help you to face some of the unforeseen changes that may come your way.


The wind’s direction can change at any time without notice.

Your task: Walk lightly, but always maintain your balance. By standing firm, you know that you are now prepared to withstand the shaky ground or storm that will eventually come your way.

Your AHA! Moment: You remain standing while many fall.

Magical Mindshifts

Ignite Your Inner Power. Build a Life and Business You Love.

A limited number of my Magical Mindshifts card decks are available. If you would like to have a set of your own, you can purchase here. Kay’s Artful Giving Shop.

This morning, I got up early, can you believe 5:30 AM? The reason for this is because I have many traditions that I still follow from my childhood days, while growing up in Kyushu, Japan. I think the reason why I got up so early was because I was motivated and inspired to follow the “To Do” list my mother made for me every year. You can read about my New Year “To Do” list in the article below.

Childhood Memories…

I drew and painted this watercolored picture of me playing the Hako-Ita (new year’s game). I loved batting the feathered target back-and-forth with my neighborhood friends.

The story I wrote, Embracing Childhood Memories as We Step into the New Year will be published in the North American Post news in their January issue, but I want to give you a head start. Please click here to read this poignant story and learn a valuable lesson on how to unload all the old stuff as we step into the new year.

Embracing Childhood Memories as We Step into the New Year  By Kay Hirai

I know that you have many memories of your New Year’s traditions that you were taught as children. I’d love to hear them so please write them in the comment section below.

A BIG THANKS TO YOU! You have been part of my community for a long time…you helped me to celebrate the publications of my books, you attended my business and art workshops, you purchased my hand-made gifts, you supported my philanthropy projects, and you read my blogs and gave me feedbacks. I couldn’t have done any of these without your support and encouragement. I look forward to bringing more stories, workshops, and creativity into your life in 2022!

A Season to Work on Transformation

I have a question for you. How do you feel, when you change something plain and useless into a beautiful little art treasure that you can enjoy for yourself or gift it to someone special in your life? 

This is something that I’m passionate about. I spot something around my house and try to see it, not as how it looks now but how it can become. 

Some of my favorite things I use for my make-by-hand projects are kleenex boxes, cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, and brown grocery bags. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of self-worth that I am doing a small thing to take care of our earth.  And when I succeed in creating something I love, I want to share my ideas and skills – to help uleash the pent-up creative energy in others.

Some people say, “Oh no, that’s not me. I don’t have a creative bone in my body. My mind doesn’t work that way”. My answer? I believe creative energy won’t flow until you start doing something. So it will never flow if you don’t get your hands into creative projects that are simple and fun.

I invite you to attend my upcoming zoom workshop, “Cute Holiday Adornments”.

Saturday, December 7 – 10:00 AM (PT)  on Zoom. Can’t attend? No worries, a replay video will be sent to you. 

Come, get your hands into making adorable holiday stuff. I guarantee that it will be fun plus your creative energy will flow, getting you ready to step into the holiday season with a positive attitude!

All you need are cereal or kleenex box, crayons (or any other coloring tools you have around your house. No need to draw because I’ve created templates for you to follow. When you sign-up for this workshop,  you are making a donation of $35. to help a great animal rescue organization, “Ginger’s Pet Rescue” where thousands of animals (from around the world) have been saved and given a second chance in life.

Register now. Only two days are left before the workshop.

Register here 

I can’t hardly wait to have fun with you!

Why This Sad News Now?

I know this saying so well … the wind’s direction can change at any time without notice … but why now?

I’m sure there are many moments when you feel that way too right? Life goes along as expected and all of a sudden out of nowhere, you get bad news.

I received a sad message from Ginger’s Pet Rescue that Ginger Luke (CEO of Ginger’s Pet Rescue) who rescued MoMo from the Korean Dog Meat market, had passed on. Ginger sent us regular emails throughout the summer asking how MoMo was doing. She was so proud when I told her that MoMo is a super sweet dog. She always ended her email messages by signing, Love from MoMo’s Grandmother. She told me that she considered herself a Grandmother to all the dogs she rescued and gave them a second chance at life.

I talk to MoMo every day about her Grandmother, Ginger and if it wasn’t for her, MoMo would not be here with me, living a good life in the United States. She gives me an earnest look as though she understands my feelings.

Ginger Luke

June 1, 1948 – September 22, 2021

“It’s all about timing. It’s all about a miracle. It’s all about getting a second chance at life.

Ginger was an advocate and savior of animals who needed a way out of their impoverished life. Ginger’s passing this September was a great loss, but her foundation, Ginger’s Pet Rescue continues to do outstanding work. She has saved over 18,000 dogs from around the world … dogs in kill shelters, puppy mills, meat farms, and dogs ready to be euthanized. 

“Ginger’s compassion and hard work have touched many lives and we are grateful. Momo, my dog, was one of the last dogs rescued from a Korean meat market under Ginger’s watch. I so appreciate this little gift that came into my life”.        –Kay Hirai-

Ginger’s work will be continued by Sian Davies. Sian is a longtime animal activist who founded Animal Rescue Korea to save dogs from the dog meat trade in South Korea. Sian started partnering with Ginger five years ago to save dogs. Two years ago, Sian came to Seattle to spend time with Ginger and sadly learned that her health was failing. Ginger asked Sian to continue her rescue. Sian has relocated permanently to Seattle and will continue Ginger’s Pet Rescue and her legacy. 

What’s Next?

MoMo, friends, and I have come up with a plan to help Ginger’s Pet Rescue continue its good work. We will reveal what’s in the works in a few days. Please keep your eyes open for our next email.

P.S. Do you have any ideas? Please let me know in the comment section.

This Moment Will Never Come Again

Going back to your childhood, what did you enjoy the most? Which events or incidents do you remember strongly? Do you remember the feeling of excitement and anticipation before each holiday of the year, counting down the days? Do holidays affect you in the same way today? If asked this question, most of us would answer, “Of course not. I’m not a child anymore. Adults are too busy and don’t have the time or energy to get excited over holidays”.

Here are some reasons why we should look forward to the coming holidays and see and feel about them as when we were children.

  • Holidays and their festivities will shift your mind away from your daily routines, responsibilities, and problems.
  • Holidays provides opportunities for you to do something childlike and fun.
  • You can experience memorable moments with family, friends, and pets. (Don’t forget to take photos!)
  • You can build or re-build relationships by sending cards or gifts that you made with your own hands. The receiver will love them and appreciate the gift of your love.

I love exposing MoMo to the things that make our fall season and its holiday, Halloween so special. I tell her, “It’s not scary, it’s fun so let’s enjoy every holiday throughout the year!”

MoMo loves all the bright-colored pumpkins. She’s never seen them before. I wonder what she is thinking?

She is such a sweet girl. She will do anything to please me. I have to always remember that she didn’t have normal puppy years. I want to help her to enjoy all the holidays and their festivities eventhough she is a young adult now.

I must admit I was terrified during my first Halloween season in the U.S. Ghosts, skulls, bats and haunted houses scared me to death. I overcame my hate for Halloween by transforming all the scary goblins into whimsical, cute, and happy hand-made decorations! It’s not too late to take my Halloween Trio class. It’s simple and fun and you can get instant access. Come and join me and we’ll have fun together! Register here!

Get Ready to Have Fun, Halloween is Coming!

Many of our salon’s clients have expressed how much they enjoy the hand-made Halloween decorations that are displayed in our salon.  I love decorating the salon to fit the seasons and holidays throughout the year. It’s a lot of work decorating our 2,400 sq. ft. of space but the reward we get is well worth it. We love seeing how the whimsical decorations of skulls, bats, and ghosts, swinging down from the salon’s mirrors bring joy and happiness to our clients, letting them take their minds off of whatever is bothering them.  

We made a bride and groom ghosts tree in our salon. It sure brings a lot of “wow”, “ah…”, and smiles to people’s faces when they see this tree.

Many people have been asking me to create a class on how to make these whimsical decorations and cards for people who are at the beginning of their creative journey. So I listened and developed an online art workshop where I teach students how to make Halloween skulls, ghosts, and whimsical bats using a simple step-by-step process.

Come and join me, I guarantee that you will have fun making your very own hand-made art treasures! You can share your hand-made ornaments and cards with others as gifts or decorate your own home to create a magical Halloween season. 

Can’t draw? Don’t worry, I made templates for all the goblins for you to download and print. It’s all in the classroom.

Art supplies? You can use whatever you have but if you want a list of supplies that I used to create the goblins, the video tutorial and the supply list are in the classroom under the second video, called Art Supplies.

Only $35.
Register here and you will get instant access to the classroom and course. Make your ornaments in the comfort of your own home on your own time. You will have access to the Halloween Trio course for 30 days from the date of your purchase.
Any questions? Send an email to Kay at [email protected]

Here are all the goblins you will be making in this class!

Summer 2021, What a Summer!

I’m sure that you will agree with me when I say “What a Summer”! I know your summer has been just as busy as mine. I’m sure you are wondering if this is the new normal as we try to gain a foothold on what is yet to come. I’ve been talking to other business owners and we all seem to be in the same boat. We need to scale up our businesses quickly to catch up to the rising cost of business operations but where are the workers? In spite of the disturbing news about the Delta variance, Climate Control, and sufferings of the world, we must not get all of this get us down.

I’ve been staying focused on living in Ikigai philosophy… find my reason for getting up every morning, finding ways to enjoy every moment, and truly feeling so joyful about the things I do… training my new dog MoMo, daily watercolor practices, giving art classes, servicing our salon’s clients, and mentoring my SCORE clients who are passionate about starting their own businesses. Wow, am I really doing all these things? This is a lot but I’m able to do it all if I plan my schedule and stay organized. The most important thing is that I’m passionate about everything I do and I have fun!

All The Things I Enjoyed in the Summer of 2021


Even after 30 years of being in business, I still LOVE giving our Studio 904 customers new and updated haircuts and styles on their overgrown hair. I realized that the personal transformations we create for our clients make them so happy. I wish you can see them bouncing out of the salon with big smiles on their faces!


MoMo has brought pure joy to our household. We feel so fortunate that she came into our hands all the way from Korea! Another shouting thank you to Ginger’s Pet Rescue for finding MoMo and rescuing her from her dreary life in the Korean Dog Meat Market Camp.

MoMo graduated from her level II Dog Training in August.


MoMo is no longer afraid and intimidated by other dogs. Her social skills have improved and she loves to play with her new friends at the Luther Burbank Dog Park. I think it helped that we visited the park almost every evening this summer. There is one thing that she does that makes me so proud. She practices diplomacy at the park. How? When a smaller dog is being pounced by a large dog, she steps in, barks, and chases the big dog away.

She has shown so much progress in leash-walking that I actually enjoy our walks. She is learning how to play with toys and enjoys eating snacks out of my hand as a reward for good behavior. The thing she loves most is playing chase with tennis balls. She treats the ball like it’s the most precious thing she owns. It really makes me happy when I see her playing with the ball on her own… jumping, chasing, and snuggling. She is still very polite and mild-mannered around us, always being mindful not to push her boundaries. I want to thank you for coming along on MoMo’s Journey. She will continue to learn as long as she is with me.

MoMo has found her new love! She plays like this many times during the day!

Teaching in small incremental steps and watching my students grow!

I found out that my Ikigai is teaching and mentoring others. What I love is watching my students improve and seeing the transformation in their skills and confidence. The truth is, I think I am the one who gains from all this. I keep up on daily art practice of watercolors and making things by hand. I continue to take classes to grow my creative mind. My own skills have improved just as much as the people I teach and mentor. I’m confident that I can help people to add creativity to their lives even when they say “I don’t have a creative bone in my body”. My answer is, “Yes you do. You just don’t know yet because no one’s helped you to uncover your unique hidden gifts”.

Take a look at the work that was turned in by members of the Artful Giving Community. These are the results from the last workshop I gave, “The Art of Kamishibai, Japanese Story-Telling”. Aren’t they impressive?


I’d love to have you join us in the community. To find out more about the Artful Giving Community, click this link.

Please leave me a comment and tell me what brought you joy this summer. I know you have a story to share too. I love to hear your stories!

The Art of Kamishibai Japanese Storytelling

What, it’s already August?

Sorry for the late notice, but I’m inviting you to a just-in-time workshop before the end of our summer season.

I remember those hot summer days when I was growing up on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. My neighborhood friends and I waited patiently for the Kamishibai Man to arrive on his bicycle, pulling his candy shop and a miniature kamishibai wooden stage. We all ran out of our houses clutching small amounts of coins in our hands as the wooden clicking noise echoed closer and closer to our street. We sat around his bicycle, positioning ourselves to get the best possible view of the wooden kamishibai stage. We showed Kamishibai man the coins in our hands and he smilingly gave us a handful of our favorite lemon drops, milk, and rice candies. We licked and sucked on our candies while watching his show … intrigued with the man’s storytelling as he pulled one bright-colored picture out of the wooden frame and another scene appeared.

Kamishibai is the magical art of Japanese storytelling. Kami means paper and Shibai mean play. Kamishibai is such a powerful communication medium that organizations worldwide have adapted to using it to clarify their vision and values. In addition, Doctors Without Borders adopted it as part of its AIDS campaign.


Join me in a fun, light-hearted Zoom workshop as I share with you a well-known Japanese story, Rabbit and the Moon. Then we will draw and paint a scene from the story, Momo-taro, a boy who was born out of a peach that was floating down the rive.

Don’t worry if you are a beginner. You will become a Kamishibai artist and a storyteller as you cut papers and paint a beautiful stage scene that asks the question, “What’s in the Peach?”

After you take this class and practice more, you’ll be able to make your own Kamishibai stories, paint beautiful greeting cards, or make a colorful display piece for your home.

Date: Saturday, August 7

Time: 10:00 – 11:30 AM (PT)

Only $35.

To find out more or register, you can go here.

Hope to see you at the Kamishibai worksop!