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Kansai Scene Magazine


The GB Files

What leads to one swapping tea with the Queen for sencha with the Emperor? Meet some of Kansai’s British expat royalty.

From artists to businessmen, culinary extraordinaires to animal rights activists, Brits have had, and continue to have, quite the impact on Kansai (if not just in keeping the pubs in business). What brings Brits to Kansai? And what exactly makes them stay – despite the distinct unavailability of reasonablypriced PG Tips?

Elizabeth Anne Oliver(Somerset)

Elizabeth ARK
Tell us about what you do
I’m the CEO of Animal Refuge Kansai, ARK. I’m involved in the management of all aspects of this organisation. We adopt animals, raise funds and educate on our cause. We have over 30 staff in Osaka and Tokyo, and 400 animals.
How long have you been in Kansai and why did you come?
Too long! I came out of curiosity.
First job in Japan?
Teaching English at a university in Osaka.
Favourite Kansai Summer hangout?
What has living in Japan taught you?
Dealing with stray animals has taught me a lot about Japanese society and I have met some crazy but also some wonderful people. Cruelty to animals exists everywhere in the world, but I think cruelty here stems from ignorance and lack of understanding of what animals feel and need.

Simon Fisher(Brighton)

Tell us about what you do
I’m the UK Consul General and Head of Trade and Investment for western Japan. I represent the British government’s interests in by far the most interesting half of Japan. This involves leading our Consulate-General team in publicising Britain as an innovative, multi-cultural country with shared values of Japan; promoting investment into the UK from Japanese companies; and building science and innovation research links between UK and leading western Japanese universities like Handai and Kyodai.
Why and when did you come to Kansai?
I came to Japan 23 years ago to learn Japanese at the British Embassy language school. I’ve lived here for seven years; four in Kansai.
First job in Japan?
Vice-Consul at the Tokyo Embassy, visiting British nationals in Fuchu prison.
Favourite Kansai summer hangout?
My local “British pub” the Clapham Inn and the neighbouring tapas bar in Ashiyagawa.
What has living in Japan taught you?
That a foreigner speaking a few words of Kansai-Ben guarantees a laugh.

Peter John Broadhurst(Leicester)

Tell us about what you do
I’m the owner of Broadhurst’s Patisserie and Cacao En Masse chocolaterie in Osaka, where I create and produce cakes, bread, chocolates and biscuits from around the world; especially British items.
When and why did you originally come to Kansai?
I first came to Kansai 15 years ago to show Japanese cake lovers a different side to baking.
First job in Japan?
I was first employed at Nakatani Patisserie in Osaka as Sous Chef for four years before opening my own shops.
Favourite Kansai Summer Hangout?
The beach at Kotobikihama, Kyoto.
What has moving to Japan taught you?
Since moving to Osaka I’ve become more of an opportunist but also more patient and have learned to be open-minded about everything I encounter.

David Syrad(Carshalton, Surrey)

Tell us about what you do
I’m the owner and CEO of AKI Japan Ltd. We provide support and project management for foreign-owned companies dealing with Japanese businesses globally and for Japanese companies dealing with Europe and North America. I’m also a managing partner in CBI Partners founded in Yokohama in 2007.
When and why did you originally come to Kansai?
I’ve lived here twice: 1979 to 1983 and 1997 to now; mainly in Kansai, but often working and staying in Kanto or travelling to the US, Europe and Asia. I’ve travelled far too much! I was originally curious about the culture after seeing a dramatisation of Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North on a school trip when I was 14.
First job in Japan?
English teacher in Mie. Favourite Kansai summer hangout? Seta river in Shiga.
What has living in Japan taught you?
That education is a key factor in creating a civil society. That all societies have strengths and weaknesses. That time flows slowly inside karaoke bars, but the time flow outside is unaltered…

Stephen Gill(Harrogate, Yorkshire)

Tell us about what you do
I am a haiku poet, radio scriptwriter, and translator. I’m also an English and Comparative Cultures lecturer for both Kyoto and Ryukoku Universities.
When and why did you originally come to Kansai?
I originally came to Japan out of a love for haiku poems and wanted to visit the places about which Matsuo Basho wrote. After working and studying in and out of Japan since 1974, I came to Kyoto to stay in 1995.
First job in Japan?
An Information officer for a diamond company in Tokyo.
Favourite Kansai summer hangout?
Kumihama, Tango.
What has living in Japan taught you?
To value soulful moments more than monumental works, but also the dangers of unnecessary, ill-conceived development projects like nuclear power stations in earthquake zones!

Philip Harper(Cornwall)

Tell us about what you do
I’m the master brewer at Kinoshita Sake Brewery where I’m in charge of the sharp end of the sake brewing business. This is my twenty-third year as a sake brewer.
When and why did you come to Japan?
I’ve been in Japan since Showa 63 (1988). Apart from a one week orientation in Tokyo when I arrived, and a ten month stint in a brewery in Ibaragi Prefecture, I have been in Kansai the whole time. I was attracted to the exoticness that Japan offered, and the chance to encounter a language with no links to European languages.
What was your very first job in Japan?
I was an English teacher in Osaka City schools with the JET Programme.
Favourite summer hangout in Kansai?
Somewhere cool, if there is anywhere like that!

Alan Gibson(Birmingham)

Tell us about what you do
I’m the owner and publisher of J Soccer magazine – a niche magazine covering stories on all aspects of J.League football. I also referee matches and have recently started my own kids soccer school.
When and why did you originally come to Kansai?
I came 25 years ago in November to DJ at the Portopia Hotel in Kobe for a month!
First job in Japan?
Working as a DJ for Juliana’s Tokyo.
Favourite Kansai summer hangout?
Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club
What has living in Japan taught you?
If you put your mind to it and your heart is in it, you can do anything in Japan.

Kevin Elliott(Stratford upon Avon)

Tell us about what you do
I’m the Director of Finance and Business Operations at Canadian Academy – an international school in Kobe. Our team prepares annual budgets, oversees spending and plans capital projects.
When and why did you come to Kansai?
I originally came to Japan 15 years ago on the JET programme, I came to Kansai after three years.
First Job in Japan?
ALT in Oita city.
Favourite Kansai summer hangout?
The River mall on Rokko Island.
What has living in Japan taught you?
That anything is possible and to take risks, grabbing chances whenever and wherever they appear.

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