Hello from New Staff


Warm greetings from Ayuko Sakurai! I had joined this institute a few days ago as a Cooperate Planning Group member. So, this blog is technically my first task at this job. Now, please allow me to introduce myself and tell you a bit about where I came from.

Long story short, I spent 11 years abroad and returned to Japan in 2018. I decided to leave my family and country at the age of 15. No plan. Just curiosity and strong drive to get out. It sounds like a naïve teenager who does not know the world, but anyway, I ended up facing the difficulty of job hunting (as an international student) after I earned my master’s degree in Metalsmithing and Jewelry Designs in the U.S. Yes, this sounds like a real world. I felt the expiration date of my student visa was approaching, and this made me very anxious, just like other international students who had no connection with a big (rich) company (which would hire talented non-American residents). During this long, exhausting process, one of my friends introduced me the position of a dental ceramist in a dental laboratory. The reason why I chose this job was a visa sponsorship that my boss promised to provide. And of course, I was relieved and soon realized that tools for making dental products were similar to the ones for jewelry making. This is how I landed my first “real” job in my life.

However, I was informed within a few months that this company never offered a visa sponsorship. I had no choice. With disappointment, I had to go back to my home country and started a new life after 11 years of being international student/resident in foreign countries. But I have to admit, this decision was right. I found a job in Tokyo and re-started my career as a science communicator at a museum in 2019. Which means, I did not encounter hate crimes against Asians; I did not feel insecure because of unstable job position; I did not become offensive to people around me, triggered by uneasiness being the only Japanese within a community. (I remember the series of news about Covid-19 infection in Diamond Princess Cruise ship, one of the very first infection cases in Japan. At that time, almost two years had passed since my return to Japan.) Also, these years in Japan gave me the time to work with Japanese peers, which was another good aspect of life.

Speaking of the job at the museum, one of my objectives was to participate international affairs projects using my English. This was also a major reason to join this museum. As the result, my responsibilities and duties often included the management of V.I.P. tours—it was the first time I met someone who were referred to Majesty and Honor—and visiting events of embassies, the development of educational workshops, and the application of different communication methods with researchers for their research outreach and public engagement. I should say, this position as a science communicator helped me work with various stakeholders for various purposes and projects. Originally, this museum caught my attention because of its international affairs projects and philosophy; as I spent a few years networking with international stakeholders and participating international symposiums, I felt more confident in pursuing a job like that. It seemed very fitting to me.

However, this position was a contract for five years. Which means, I had to start job hunting at some point. I often recalled the rough time in the U.S. applying more than 130 organizations, which ended up nothing, as well as the long path to get my current job. But I was getting used to it, knowing the majority of people felt the similar way when finding a job. So, I started this process around the spring of 2023, using my time, money, and energy in making a list of organizations, sending job applications to them, and interviews. Unlike when I had just returned to Japan fine years ago, now I have the proof of working at the same organization for nearly 5 years, which should show my credibility. It would be safe to say that I could get a fitting job somewhere within a few months.

Surprisingly enough, no job was found yet in the winter of this year. I believed that I earned enough abilities and credentials, and more people were changing their jobs than ever, so it was a good time. But so far, it brought nothing to me. Well, this also happened to a lot of people; I kept telling myself and needed some motivation.

Then one day, a job list was sent from my new recruitment agent, including the position at this institute. I read its job description, which seemed fairly interesting, but I put it on the waiting list, being not quite sure about the idea behind the term “Pax Japonica.” A few days later, my curiosity made me check what it meant. This word reminded me of Pax Romana, what I studied in a world history course, but I was not certain thinking that it could be some extreme nationalism idea; in this case, I would quietly walk away.

By checking several reports and blogs published on the website, I had an impression that jobs I did at a museum could be useful and possibly close to this position at the institute. For example, I could think of international affairs projects as well as public outreach and engagement.

So, only two days have passed since I started working here, and I am grateful to join this team and work towards a better society.