Merry Angel

Merry AngelOccupation:
Managing Director
Time in Japan:
16 years

I came to Japan in 1981 after reading Japanese at London University. It seemed like the obvious thing to do, to see whether four years of study had been worthwhile and to put into practice the things I had learned.

I spent my first year here teaching English and French and then I worked as a freelance book translator?my first book was about Japanese war crimes in Manchuria, which was quite a way to get my grounding in translation. After that I went to work for Vickers Da Costa translating news and then for Commes des Garcons in their PR department. I started my own business because I wanted to be involved in the environmental movement but couldn' find a company that had environmental concerns. Initially I thought that I would just advise Japanese companies on how to become more ecological in whatever it was that they did, but I kept on meeting all these businessmen who were saying it wasn't possible to run an ecologically sound business, so I realized that I had to do it myself to prove that it was possible.

I've not really had too many problems functioning as a businesswoman in Japan, mostly because I'm involved in the fashion business and, unlike most industries here, there are a lot of women in senior roles in fashion. Even if I'm dealing with men, they are men who are working with successful women every day, so they respect me and my ideas.

But when it comes to trying to find companies that are responsive to my ideas, it has been very difficult. Many of my buyers are just not interested in the thinking behind my product, and some shops prefer to not make any mention of the issues behind the pieces at all. They say it looks like I'm pointing an accusing finger at the other manufacturers, but I don't see it that way; I simply think it is about having the choice. It's difficult for me to say what I think the best thing about living in Japan is because I've lived here for most of my adult life. But from a personal and a business perspective I really enjoy the fact that the Japanese are so ready for new products and ideas. I get a real charge from that enthusiasm. It's such fun.

Something that is really starting to get to me though is the lack of personal space. It's so crowded everywhere and, even though I grew up in London, it's something that I just haven't got used to. I mean wading through the crowds at Hachiko is just too much sometimes. I could handle it when I was in my twenties, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to cope so well when I'm in my fifties. For that reason I'm planning to spend more time in Europe in the future. I love Japan, it's so much fun, but I think I'm ready for a change. We'll just have to wait and see.

Merry Angel spoke with Richard James.

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199: Diane Morris
Media & Advertising
198: Ross Mihara
NHK Sumo Announcer
196: Corky Alexander
Tokyo Weekender
195: Edward Obaidey
194: Merry Angel
Managing Director
193: Alison Pockett
Managing Partner
192: Zack Konno
Car Export Representive
191: Pamela S. Caudill
Assistant U.S. Customs
190: Caroline Power
Being a Broad
189: Geoffrey Tudor
P.R. Section Chief JAL
188: Ryuko Ishikawa M.D.
Family Psychiatrist
187: Georges Hassam
Arabic Dance Instructor
186: Larry London
DJ at InterFM
185: Richard James
Photographer & Writer
184: Alan Kidd
Rock Musician & Editor
183: Adam Hitchens
Mobile Hairdresser/Masseur
182: Lylian de la Vega
181: Annie Chang
Computer Training
180: Mike Jacobs
179: Jimmy Angel
Rock'n'Roll Singer
178: Dante
177: Elizabeth Spencer
Tokyo Classified Intern
175: Paul E. Ainlay
Proprietor of D.B. Cooper's
174: Steve Bindon
173: Nanae Nagata & Naji Rahman
Proprietors of Heart Cocktail
172: Tom Holiday
171: Gordon Hutchingson
170: Barry Cardinal
Renshi Aikido Instructor
169: Tammy
168: Steve Feldman
Computer Dealer
167: Eve Suter
Flower Designer
166: Paul Goldsmith
Computer/H.R. Consultant
165: Avry Gottesman
Auto Dealer
164: Russell Pollard
Financial Advisor
163: Sa'dia
Belly Dancer
162: Marcel L'Esperance
Choral Director
161: Gregg Alan
Used Motorcycle/Car Dealer
160: Dr. Greg Sapplers OMD
Oriental Medical Doctor
159: Ute Ikuta
Cat Lover
158: Pam Adkins
Shaw College
157: Cloudy Bong Water
156: Melissa
Internet Company Director
155: Paul Gibson
Proprietor, The Fiddler Pub
154: Ann Spiers
153: Evans M. Asare
152: Sandy Weiss
Acting Teacher
150: Kike

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