JCNYC Business Editor Yvonne Burton is featured in Ikigai Connections! Her “Senpai Success Story” chronicles her experiences as a Black Jamaican American woman who fully immersed herself in Japan. As a result, she created lasting friendships and a fulfilling career.
What is “Senpai”?
The word “senpai” means “mentor” or “teacher.” The nuance is that a senpai is someone you look up to, who takes you under her wing and shows you the ropes.
This family introduced me to Japan and supported me in learning about all things, good and bad, about their country.”
— Yvonne Burton on her homestay family in Osaka
Yvonne’s Japan journey began while she was a college student in the late 1980s. She attended Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka and immersed herself in the culture. She was fortunate to have a homestay family who embraced her as one of their own.
After graduating, I realized that any entry-level job I could get would not give me direct contact with Japan, so within a year, I decided to go back to Japan on my own. I had $100 and friends! I knew I would make my way.”
— Yvonne Burton on returning to Japan after college
Not seeing the opportunities to use her business degree when she returned to Japan, Yvonne created them. What started out as teaching English turned into teaching business English and eventually morphed into the consulting work she continues to do today, thirty years later.
Dispelling the Myth of Hostessing
The term “hostess bar” may conjure images of young women paid to have flirtatious conversations with Japanese salarymen. Negative incidents in the past exposed a seedy side to Japan’s entertainment business.
Yvonne encountered a far different world when she worked as a hostess. It became an educational experience for her, and she gained valuable insight into Japanese business.
Yvonne has been contributing business-related articles to JCNYC since the pandemic began, at first focusing on how to adjust to working from home. She is committed to helping Japanese companies increase their tech fluency as we continue to navigate these pandemic times.
Yvonne is a natural senpai, offering level-headed advice and practical solutions to business or personal issues. Read her full Senpai Success Story at Ikigai Connections. She interviewed Kasia Lynch, the founder of Ikigai Connections, last year; read the article here. Connect with both Yvonne and Kasia on LinkedIn, and they can be your virtual senpais!