Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the two fastest-growing racial populations in the United States, projected to become the largest immigrant group in the country by 2055. The AANHPI population represents over 30 countries and ethnic groups that speak over 100 different languages. As a company, Shikohin is proud to be part of this growing community.
In recent years, AANHPI representation in mainstream media has been on the rise. At the 94th Academy Awards held in Hollywood on March 27, 2022, director Ryusuke Hamaguchi'sDrive My Car won Best International Feature Film and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is the first Japanese film to win the Best International Feature Film Award in 13 years, since the movieOkuribito.
The film follows the director and stage actor, Yūsuke Kafuku (played by Hidetoshi Nishijima), who directs a multilingual production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima while grappling with the death of his mysterious wife. Known for his unconventional methods, Kafuku casts a play with actors of diverse nationalities who perform their roles in their native tongue. A mélange of Japanese, Korean, English, Mandarin, Tagalog, Indonesian, German, Malaysian, and the beautiful addition of Korean Sign Language, are woven throughout the story.
Even though these actors don’t speak the same languages and are at first apprehensive of Kafuku’s methods, they learn to express themselves eloquently and eventually communicate with a special sense of shared understanding. Their different languages and lived experiences add richness to the play, making the audience less concerned about what the actors are saying and more attuned to how the actors are conveying the emotion of the scene. Most importantly, all the actors are committed to a common goal—putting on a moving performance of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.
This multilingual production aptly resembles our Shikohin team and how we run our own entrepreneurial production. Our truly diverse team of global citizens come from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Lebanese, British, American, and French backgrounds.
Though we have learned to navigate certain language and cultural differences in communication or work styles, our different perspectives and experiences have led to remarkably synergistic innovations. The unique formulations in each of our creams and serums are the product of meticulous experimentation with the finest medicinal plants sourced from Japan, France, and Tahiti. Everything from our operations to our marketing and design philosophy reflect our values as individuals and as a team. Importantly, we are all committed to Shikohin’s mission.
The diversity, inclusion, and equity we build within our company reflects our greater mission to build an inclusive global wellness community through shared rituals, unique experiences, and learning opportunities. For AANHPI Heritage month, we’d like to highlight the voices of AANHPI members of our team to hear what this month means to them and how their cultural identities inform their values. Throughout the coming months, we want to highlight all of our team members, because it is these diverse voices that shape the voice of Shikohin…
Heritage: I am Japanese.
As an AAPI leader in business, I aim to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in each of my companies. I know the value this diversity brings to the team and many interesting ideas have arisen from our different perspectives and unexpected connections. I want to help uplift the voice of each employee, making sure they feel valued and appreciated and supported so that they may do their best work.
Shikohin encapsulates many of the practices my grandmother passed on to me. As a child, I remember picking yuzu,learning about medicinal plants, and taking hot herbal baths my grandmother would draw for me to cure various ailments–from colds and coughs to rashes and injuries I incurred as a mischievous little boy. It is these precious wisdoms that I hope to pass on to my children and share with the Western world, by melding them with the self care rituals I have learned through my various international travels.
Heritage: I am a first generation American-Filipino.
Favorite Shikohin product(s): Gua Sha tool
As a first generation Filipino American it’s extremely important to me to blend my Filipino roots into my American upbringing. And to make the best of the life my parents worked so hard to provide to my brother and me. It was hard to find my identity in America, but now I find it really fulfilling to share my culture and traditions with my friends. They’ve all been so accepting of me. As well as share that there are many different cultures when it comes to Asian/Pacific Islander countries. Not a lot of people know about Filipino culture. So it’s been empowering to be one of them and to show how proud we are as a whole.
For me, AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight diversity and inclusivity. A chance for me to reconnect with myself and identity. As well as educate others outside of the AAPI community. And to show how proud I am to be a Filipino American. Our culture is loud and fun - I think anyone can relate to that!
Heritage: I am Korean Japanese.
Favorite Shikohin product(s): Hand & Foot Massage Cream
I was raised with a different perspective, and for me, it’s about staying true to my values while also contributing to a culture that’s often dominated by other voices. Japanese and Korean cultures focus on family and caring about others. This sense of community is something I want to contribute to life in the USA. AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight my community and celebrate our overall contribution to American culture.
Heritage: I am Japanese.
I came to the states when I was 2, but I am so glad that my parents made me learn Japanese as well. Now I can appreciate all of Japan’s traditions while living here and I feel like it really transitioned me to who I am today.
My great grandpa is American and went to Japan during the war. My grandpa was born a happa in Japan and his dream was to come to the US. He fell ill and was never able to make it. Then my dad’s dream was to come to the US. And here I am today. It reminds me that it was a privilege back then and I am truly thankful for the freedom we have now.
What is your heritage? I am first-generation Chinese-American.
AAPI Heritage month reminds me to celebrate my roots and connect with the cultural customs and stories that make me who I am. It's also an opportunity to share my stories and perspectives with others. I think educating folks outside the AAPI community about our different experiences is also important. We can't expect people to just understand, so I feel like we have to do our part in engaging in difficult conversations about race, compassion, equity, and inclusion.
I used to feel ashamed and fetishized as an Asian American woman. Now, it's a part of my identity that I embrace more and more. I feel like I have more balanced perspectives because my parents are always sharing stories about what it was like to grow up in Communist China and their news outlets often tell completely different stories than the ones I hear on Western news channels. It just reminds me that people have radically different lived experiences and values. They have taught me about Chinese food, music, history, and culture. I used to think these differences made me weird or deficient somehow, but now I realize they add so much depth and richness to my life, and I hope to pass on the language and our "Chinglish" traditions to my kids someday.
We are proud to have such diverse cultural representation on our team. Now more than ever, it is important to educate ourselves and others of our history and heritage, our rituals and our rights as Asian-American Pacific Islanders.
This month, we celebrated the experiences and voices of our AANHPI team members, and we look forward to introducing many more of our team members in the upcoming months! If you would like to learn more about the uniquely Japanese ingredients found in our team’s favorite Shikohin products, take a look at our blog, Natural Japanese Healing Ingredients for Holistic Wellness.