“It is not easy to be yourself in a different country far away from home, but you can succeed if you try” – An Advice from Japanese Immigrant Entrepreneur

The key to success is not only increasing the profitability of the business but to be compassionate and helpful to people.”

Akemi Asao, A Femigrant from Japan, Owner of ASAO Acupuncture, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist.

A story of Japanese entrepreneur who started her career at Japanese software company’s branch office in the US but later launched her own business in acupuncture.

Akemi Asao’s journey of becoming a successful Femigrant is truly inspirational in a way that she established herself as a women entrepreneur in a time when there were not many resources available for immigrant women. She moved from Japan in 1989, in support of her husband’s job in the US. Initially, she chose not to work because of her children, but she started volunteer work for the local school and community. She recalled it was a continuous struggle finding friends and getting involved in the community because of the cultural differences. She did not know much about the society, but she enjoyed meeting new people and learning about their culture. Later, she accepted a position for managing a Japanese software company’s branch office in the US.

While working, she came across the blooming theory of acupuncture- a form of alternative medicine which sounded very interesting and fascinating. Akemi begin inquiring about how acupuncture works as she truly liked the idea of treating people in a natural way. She started studying acupuncture, while working at the software company. Soon, she realized that acupuncture is a very traditional concept and involves different theories and philosophies that requires a full-time dedication and commitment so she left her job and enrolled in a graduate school. After completion, she started practicing acupuncture, but she was still full of doubts about how to carry forward her practice. Eventually, she invested best of her time and commitment to her work and was able to establish her own business – ASAO Acupuncture.

Initially, she was fortunate enough to have worked with several patients during her internship which helped her in creating a trusted network of patients. She believes that it is hard for anyone to succeed at a business in the beginning and as a female immigrant from a different culture, it was even harder for her, but she managed to do her best. The first two years were very hard, but she was able to maintain the stability in the third year. Being from a religious background, she strongly believes the key to success is not only increasing the profitability of the business but to be compassionate and helpful to people. This is also a slogan of her acupuncture philosophy. She deems it as a perfect career choice to exercise her beliefs.

During practice, she whole-heartedly listens to her patients as she has observed that majority of the patients not only come to treat pysical pain but mental pain as well. In all these years of practice, she has found out that listening to patients help them heal quickly. The basic theory behind her practice is that when people feel connected, they feel secure and they stop hurting themselves. There are various techinques and theories involved in practicing accupuncture, but she came across this one when she went to Japan for apprenticeship. This is working really well for her because it revolves around being compassionate to her patients so she really enjoys practicing it.

Thus, her advice to fellow femigrants is to be sincere to themselves and others, and never hesitate to ask for help. She believes that there would be many frustrations and it is certainly very different from your native country but when you ask for help, people would actually help you. Keep striving hard because this country is full of opportunities. It is not easy to be yourself in a different country far away from home, but you can succeed if you try, so never give up and try your best. Being motivated all the time is not easy, but when you feel down, take some time to relax, meditate and accept the things that are happening around you. Her favorite quote is “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.

Editor: Sarah F. Anwar

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