Based in Japan: Joy Jarman-Walsh on lasting happiness
Bubble of positivity, Joy Jarman-Walsh has gone through nearly 30 years of life in Japan. A former university lecturer in communications, tourism, business and sustainability, Jarman-Walsh took a chance on leaving her safe university position to train Incoming Ambassadorhis own consulting business, in addition to starting to regularly host an online talk show, In search of a sustainable Japan.
Based in Hiroshima, Jarman-Walsh has touched and influenced hundreds of people and businesses with her infectious drive to promote sustainable living. Catch up MetropolisJarman-Walsh talks about his life in Japan, the value of sustainability and how to find the positive in any situation.
Metropolis: Your first experience with Japan dates back to 1991 within the framework of the JET program as an English teacher?
Jarman-Walsh: Yes, the JET program is something I have in common with so many other long-time Japanese residents. When I arrived, it was just supposed to be a gap year between my undergraduate studies and my graduate studies in psychology, just a year to explore and learn more about Japan. Ha! Typical of many JETs, this year turned into three years. I then left with my partner for a few years to travel before returning for what has become a long investment in living and working in Japan.
M: Three years in Japan is a long time for many, so what motivated your return?
JW: My partner and I were basically looking for a short-term place to recharge our batteries after two years of traveling around Asia and Europe. Japan was obviously familiar and offered us good opportunities and we ended up choosing Hiroshima as we both really loved it on our previous visit.
M: Hiroshima is a great place for sure.
JW: Oh, it is. We like that. It became our home — our kids were born and raised here, and we settled into a renovated Japanese farmhouse in a great neighborhood. It would be difficult to create the positive side of our balance sheet elsewhere. Since I do a lot of work on sustainability in travel and tourism, I feel like the longer I’m here, the more meaningful connections I’ve made.
M: It seems to have worked because for the next 21 years you taught at the university level. It’s a lot of time.
JW: Yeah but, you know, I loved teaching. It was as simple as that. My students have always inspired me to find new ways to help clarify difficult concepts in ways they can relate to. I really enjoyed that. I also loved the research aspects, international travel, and academic collaboration, but when I hit the big 5-0, I was ready for new challenges.
M: Earlier you mentioned “meaningful connections”. Communication is obviously important to you, so how did that motivate you to start your own business?
JW: All good business stems from the perception of a need and I felt that many businesses and people in Japan were disengaged from sustainability issues – we need more people working to do sustainable actions. dependable. Being passionate about both sustainability and communication, I challenged myself to find ways to connect big issues with people on a personal level – not in terms of rules and regulations, but because they find value in making sustainable choices.
M: What can you say about the sustainable development movement in Japan?
JW: Oh my God! There has been a serious lack of urgency in Japan to move to more sustainable solutions, but despite this things are moving and I have a good feeling that in the next three years we will see big changes. Sure, the 2030 gasoline car ban and decarbonization targets are big international promises from the government, but I think we’ll see more immediate changes in the corporate sector and at the local level.
M: Do you think sustainability will be more grassroots?
JW: Yeah, something like that. International companies are under pressure to become more sustainable as the domestic market shrinks significantly and international consumers have much higher demands for more ethical and sustainable products. I’m excited to see which companies will take the lead and start seeing lasting traction in the market. Things are moving and it’s exciting.
M: Do you have any advice for people looking to increase their sustainable footprint here?
JW: Yes! Take personal responsibility for daily choices. We all know the solutions, so treat them as an investment. They really pay off in the long run. Divest from banks and companies that fund charcoal projects and support local organic farmers. If you can, choose EVs (electric cars) and install solar panels. On an even smaller level, choose never to use plastic straws or buy PET plastic drink bottles. Try to eat less meat and fish or go vegan at least one day a week. Things like this work very well and, most importantly, are meaningful to you.
M: With that in mind, what would you say to someone looking to move to Japan, whether for work, lifestyle or business?
JW: Japan is always fascinating. There are countless things to learn but it takes effort to stay curious. So my biggest advice is to do your best to meet people, especially those related to your passions. It’s a motivational bonus! If you do this, you will learn things, you will keep your enthusiasm much easier and you will never be bored. My talk show’s tagline is “good people doing great thingswhich sums it all up. Contact us, that’s how good things start – and keep going!