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In Conversation with Erin, author of Japonisme

In Conversation with Erin, author of Japonisme

On Wednesday night, we hosted a little gathering with Erin at our store in St James for her to share with us a bit more about her wonderful and inspiring book, Japonisme

Following this enlightening evening, we thought we would ask her a few question on her routines and how she manages her wellbeing as she moves between New York and London.

How do you relax?
I tend to write, but I also listen to the radio or podcasts quite a bit, and do yoga fairly frequently. I am also a big fan of baths - as a Japanese person I probably have a bath a day, and I like reading in the bath as well.

Last book you read?
The last book I read was 'Convenience Store Woman' by Sayaka Murata, which I absolutely loved. I tend to habit-read old favourites - anything by Kurt Vonnegut, usually.

What place did you last visit that inspired you?
My last holiday was to Istanbul in September, and its one of my favourite cities. Such a rich history, beautiful food, amazing culture - it was also the last time I went on a holiday, so it was incredibly relaxing. I was in Senegal in November for work, and that was stunning - beautiful beaches, great seafood.

What physical space or room do you feel most at ease in?
My bedroom in New York. I've made it a no-tech zone, so I keep my phones and laptop out of it. It's more like an alcove (I live in a tiny studio apartment) and it's crammed full of books - the only things I have in there is a sunrise alarm clock, which doubles as a lamp, and an oil diffuser. My bed takes up most of the space, and its the comfiest place in the world.

City break or rural retreat?
I've always lived in cities, having grown up in New York and Tokyo, so it'll have to be a city break for me! 

Personal motto, what is it?
"Even monkeys fall from trees". It's a Japanese proverb, and keeps me grounded.

What quote do you love these days?
I'm writing the last chapter of my next book right now, and the proverb "fortune will always come to a house with laughter" is one I'm incorporating into that one. I think it's beautiful, and so true.

Role models, do you have any and how do they inspire you?
In my book, Japonisme, I talk a lot about my Japanese grandfather. He was a CEO of a major company, but also a temple elder - he had an incredible balance of business acumen and savvy but also extremely spiritual. I learned so much from him that I cover in my writing.

What advice would you give to your younger self.
Don't let other people determine your self worth - and that while things might seem like an incredibly big deal at the time, they soon will pass.

How often do you digitally detox?
Not frequently enough. I'm also a Director at a digital agency - but since I've moved to New York, I've actually managed to a lot more as I try to keep my home fairly screen-free. It does mean I'm out a lot more, but when I am home I'm either cooking (while listening to the radio or podcasts), sleeping or reading.

Silence or noise?
Bring the noise. 
What is your favourite music to relax you?
I played the cello (badly) for 10 years, so when I'm writing I have to listen to orchestral music. I also listen to a lot of Philip Glass when I'm writing too, I can't focus on anything with lyrics! 
What is your favourite music to energise you?
I'm a New Yorker, I love me some rap and RnB.
Health tip?
There is a saying in Japanese - hara hachi bu - which means eat until you're 80% full. My mother used to say it to me growing up, and I never listened, and would end up uncomfortably stuffed. I don't really like faddy diets, or any feeling of shame associated with food, so I don't deny myself things - but I think pacing yourself can help a lot.

What do you snack on during the day?
I'm not much of a snacker, but I am a bit of a coffee fiend, I have far too many. I love cooking, so I do tend to do a big meal prep on the weekends for the week ahead.

Weekend food indulgence?
Anything that takes a long time, that I don't have time for in the week - like slowroasted spiced lamb with butterbeans, or making bread. I've been working on a sourdough starter for weeks, I'm very attached to it. 

Coffee or tea?
It might be coffee, but I'm also a big fan of tea - I have a whole chapter devoted to the stuff! Japanese tea ceremony is incredibly beautiful and moving, but on a day-to-day basis it's coffee. I'm a New Yorker.

What inspires you?
I love my job, working with charities and purpose-led businesses. I think having that as a structure to my life inspires me creatively - my writing and other projects becomes an outlet.

How do you treat yourself?
Travel, usually, and really nice dinners. 

How do you try and stay balanced?
I love my work, including my writing, but I try and keep things equal. I prioritise exercise (it improves productivity) but also making space for fun stuff, too. I've had to actively prioritise the latter, because it can slip, but letting loose sometimes is key to being a well-rounded person.

How do you try and get the best work-life balance?
Being screen-free at home. I used to get FOMO from not watching things on Netflix, but I've actively worked to be more audio and book-focused at home. I don't feel like I'm missing out, now, especially because my job involves staying on the pulse with social, but being really disciplined with that is important.

How do you de-stress?
Baths, writing, reading.

What is your morning routine?
I flit from two extremes - I'm either up at 5.30, and on my way to a 6.30/7am yoga, spinning or boxing class, or I'm up around the same time but lazing around in bed until around 8am, or whenever I get up for work. I usually make an espresso or a cappuccino first thing, I absolutely love coffee. I often fantasise about having a long lie in, but I don't think I've actually had one for about two years - my weeks are packed, and I getting on top of my to-do list at the weekend, too.

When are you most energised in the day? What do you do to energise yourself? 
Right after I've exercised! I mostly do early morning classes, but sometimes in the evenings too. I like to do yoga or pilates once a week, a cardio based activity (either spinning or dancing) and then something that incorporates weight based training.

What is your night time routine?
I put my sun lamp on, so it replicates a sun-setting, while I do an extensive skin care routine usually. It seems incredibly indulgent, but because my day to day schedule changes so much (I'm out a lot at night with book promotion, or at work events) that's the only thing that remains constant. 


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