Everything has a steep learning curve, but this way I learned an amazing number of skills
that now allow me to pick and choose projects.” She discusses how taking on new skills
can morph into something else. There’s an openness that allows for the emergence of
“There I was in Japan – with a baby and future ex-husband. I knew the end was imminent.
I was teaching at a conservatory at that point, did a lot of concerts back then and making
money. I was thinking, ‘what the hell am I going to do to support me and my child?’ I used
to write a lot of letters – this was before email – I didn’t even own a computer. I used to
write about Japan to my friends all over the world telling them what life is like here. I
thought I could turn it into a book – say, a funny cookbook. I went to a couple of publishers
in Japan and they said yeah, but drop the recipes and just write the funny stuff. I did that
and got a book published in Japan.”
The Urban Samurai
Kasumi got divorced and came back to the United States with a child, settled in and
looked for a publisher to produce the book in English. “My publisher wanted me to write
articles – opinion and editorial pages about different issues concerning Japan – in order to
boost sales. I wrote pieces about economics, crime rates in Japan and America – all kinds
of articles and actually got paid for it. Good grief, I now had a journalism career.” Each
step would lead to something else. Kasumi got paid when the articles were published.
Surprisingly, she made even more money on making t-shirts from selected book
illustrations. See figure 1 her Urban Samurai book cover (Kasumi, 1993). She reiterates,
“don’t think that anything you do is demeaning. A t-shirt from my book?” You never know
where the next step leads.
Figure 1: Kasumi’s The Way of The Urban Samurai book cover. Selected images in book
used for t-shirt designs.