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This is My Story - Tomomi Imai (Tokyo, Japan)

Updated: Jun 24, 2018

Living in one of the most homogenous society on Earth, she had the courage to break the mould and is now enabling people to live a happy and fulfilling life away from the city.


When I first saw her walking through Biliq’s front gate, I wouldn’t have guessed that she is a Japanese (ehmm, forgive me for saying this, but I gotta admit that her complexion is pretty dark for a Japanese.) Her big and bright smile instantly spread positive vibes around the premise. I asked her where did she come from (I meant her country of origin)? She answered, “Oh, I came from Kuta, I walked 40 mins to reach here.” I was rendered speechless. Forty minutes by foot in the streets of Bali is something quite unusual, mainly due to the hot and humid weather. I instantly knew that she is quite special.

Born and raised in Tokyo, Tomomi-san used to be one of the typical Japanese corporate workers who worked long hour and lived a pretty dictated life. Today, she is a carefree and independent woman who started a creative team with freelancers called TEAM WAIN ( On top of that, she is currently working on a major project (I will tell you more about it later).

We sit for half an hour and chatted in great lengths about how she finally mustered the courage to leave the corporate life and became a freelancer.

Bored of Corporate Life

Change in Relationship

Tomomi shared how daily life became pretty flat; she went to work early in the morning and continued with her study (she holds a degree in Education and a post-grad in Soundscape) in the evening. All that busyness was amplified by a manager who overloaded her with work. Upon listening to her friends’ advice to start her own business and following a major change in relationship, Tomomi finally had the courage to take some time off her routine to stop and think.

In Japan, it is common practice to put other people first before yourself. It is a culture where one needs to think about how others feel about something rather than our own self. That resulted in putting too much thought on what other people think and nobody dares to take action because they do not want to offend others.

Tomomi shared, “I wished my old self will think less about what others think and listen more to what I wanted in life. Pleasing others will have no end; take things slow and listen to yourself.” Such a great reminder for myself as I listen to her saying this. Sometimes in life we are programmed like a robot; eat, work, sleep, repeat up to a point where we lose the joy of living the life.

I read a lot in Quora on how tough life in Japan’s metropolitan can be, and how hard the Japanese can be towards themselves in terms of work life. So, I asked Tomomi if she could give a small advice for Japanese (and non-Japanese alike) who are working relentlessly, what could that one advise be?

“If you are happy now, it’s okay. If you are not, take time off and think about your life, on how you can be happy. Listen to yourself, discuss it with yourself and choose for yourself”

Lastly, I asked Tomomi what brought her to Bali?

“I have been travelling since I was 18 years old. I have visited around 25 countries by now. I travel not to escape from Tokyo, but to see more things outside of Japan and bring it back to Tokyo. This is my third time in Bali, and I still love it very much. Bali has a very strong culture, strong philosophy and high respect towards the island itself. Most importantly, Balinese are proud to call themselves WE ARE LOCAL, despite having so much foreign culture and people that came to Bali.”


Tomomi is now back in Tokyo and is working on her very new project called “ShimaYui”, which means Shima (島): Island, a town or local ; Yui (結): helping each other. It is a project where she will visit several islands in Japan, stay there, connect with the locals, educate them and connect them with the people in Tokyo who wished to move to the island and reside there. What a meaningful project! She has been travelling around and gather a lot of useful information to be used and shared to the local community.

Well, I wish you the very best of luck Tomomi-san and thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us. A story to remind myself to always pause and think in everything that I do. For all of you who are reading this and would love to meet Tomomi, do stop by at Tomomi’s cosy coffee shop in the heart of Tokyo named TiNiES. I am pretty sure she will be happy to meet with people from all over the world over a cup of coffee ;)



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