Our good friend Akiko Watanabe works as a freelance contributor and photographer for Lodown and various other Japanese magazines. Specializing in culture, art and fashion, she is also a big lover of all things food related. Akiko contributed to the portraits of artist and fashion designer Akiyoshi Mishima and editor Kurando Furuya.
Last year we produced stories together for Ginza – a Japanese women’s style magazine, Popeye – a “City Boy’s” magazine and a special Japanese Berlin City Guide entitled, “City Book of Berlin”, published by P-Vine Inc together with Kurando Furuya and Kotaro Okazawa. This guide is a great compilation that presents her knowledge and experiences during her time spent living in Berlin. Whenever Akiko passes by to visit us at the FvF office she always fills the space with her positive radiance.
What’s your favorite daily ritual?
Seeing my son alive and having breakfast.
What do you do when you are not working with FvF?
I`ve been a mum for about a year now, it keeps occupying my time, but with pleasure of course!
Besides this, I`m mainly working for Japanese magazines as a coordinator and editor, delivering the culture related news and information from Berlin. I`m also constantly working on different editorial projects.
Where do you go when you want to relax or get inspired in your city?
I love walking around, wherever. I do this wherever I am. I also love going to supermarkets as well, wherever I am.
How has technology influenced you?
Now I need a dictionary when I hand-write in Japanese.
What is your best travel memory?
The budget European tour I did in the late 1990s with my best friend. We travelled by trains and so many insanely comical things happened which I still can laugh about when I think about all these funny experiences.
More recently, a couple of years ago, I went to Sardinia with my boyfriend and we happened to be eating in a small restaurant in a small village which we found by accident. There was this waitress who was working so hard but really pleasantly, she was spreading such a good energy to the whole place by serving people including us. I was so touched by how the presence of one person can offer something unforgettable somehow. We couldn`t even communicate as I can`t speak Italian which was the only language she knew, but I felt we exchanged something and I have been carrying that in my heart since then.
Your latest artistic discovery (musical, art or design)?
The beauty of the hand-crafted cooking knife I bought at Aritsugu in Japan.
What was the last great meal you ate and where?
The regular Japanese hot-pot dinner, called `Nabe. I do with friends at home. We prepare a hell of amount of food – mostly fresh seasonal vegetables with meat or seafood – and seriously worry that we cannot finish eating them. However, usually the pot is completely empty after two hours or so. It`s the best.
Who would you like to see featured next on FvF?
Some of my interesting Japanese friends who are living and working in abroad and worth being introduced to the world.
You are a real globetrotter – where have you lived and what where the best things about these places?
I lived in Japan, Yokohama, Kobe, Osaka, where I was born; Hong Kong in the mid 1980s; then in London during the 1990s; and now in Berlin for a decade. They have all have given me a of influences. I have not lived in any of those places by choice except Berlin. This was because of my father`s job, working for a shipping company, so I had no choice although I enjoyed living each places. Berlin is the first place I have chosen to relocate to.
I`ve got too much to mention about what I like about Japan because I am not living there. I love the dim-sum culture and energy in Hong Kong, London is full of my teenage memory which is bitter and sweet, love the crisps there, and Berlin…it`s ongoing and hard to tell what is the best thing about it but there must be something special that keeps me here for such a long time.
What are you most looking forward to when you visit your family in Japan?
To try to prove that I have grown up a bit.
Thank you Akiko for your great work and being part of the FvF team! If you want to find out more about Akikos work visit the website of Lodown Magazine.