Nao Yamasaki – Sensing the seasons


Nao, you recently moved back to Japan and landed a job at CTI, congratulations! In this very exciting period of your life, what does work-life balance mean to you?

At this moment, work-life balance is very very important to me. I had offers from 2 other companies but I chose CTI Japan for work-life balance. With this positon, I knew I could get enough time with my friends and for my hobbies. I wouldn’t be able to get enough time for such things with other companies.

Moreover working at a coaching training school is like I don’t really have to pay extra attention to balance out my time and energy. At this moment, one of the biggest things I want to invest my time is coaching, so working in the field itself is already balanced, in a sense.

When I got offers from CTI, executive search firm and HR training company, I couldn’t decide where I wanna go. I had been so indecisive. It was either to go for the damage control for my growth or just follow my pure interest. When I had a chance to talk with CTI staff, I told her about it. She said the experience I had so far is not something everybody can have. Then she asked me to say “YES” to what I have been cultivating no matter which field I move onto. Then my perspective shifted totally. It was snowing on that day, but I felt like warm milk and honey was poured into my heart and I was fulfilled, really.

I had been thinking that “the thing I cannot be with” was left-brainy “business-business” stuff, which I thought was my weakness and I tried to overcome. But I realized the thing I couldn’t be with was to acknowledge my experiences and something I already had. Now I am so thankful to my CTI friends who went through the workshops. 🙂

You have been on quite an introspective journey, I love the milk and honey perspective in regard to career! You mention time for hobbies, I know you already take part in Japanese tea ceremonies and are looking into ceramics. Firstly can you tell me a little about the tea ceremonies?

It has several hundred years of history, and largely influenced by Zen buddhism. It’s definitely not just a ritual, but an art and philosophy, I would say. Some people see it a way of meditation, like yoga. What I love about practicing tea ceremony are…
1) Confectionary! Not only they are so beautiful, they are yummy! Look at the photo, it’s made by green bean paste and egg yolk or sweet potato. Artisan of the confectionary don’t use food color, everything served in the tea party is supposed to be 100% natural. This one represents Spring flower, host of the tea party usually pick this kind of confectionary in spring time. Second photo is a cherry in jello. It would be served in summer or spring.

2) Appreciation to the season. We have 4 distinctive seasons, and we appreciate and enjoy that throughout the tea party. For example, host is likely to select tea bowl that is made by glass in summer time. See-through looking glass with a painting of a little fish will give an imaginative cool breeze for the guests. My teacher says, we didn’t have the air conditioner in old times so people become creative to feel the coolness through the senses.

I wouldn’t have taken tea ceremony lesson if I hadn’t been in southern California. I loved nice climate of CA but what I most miss about my country was seasons or changes in the season. That’s why I started taking lessons. One of the reasons why they appreciate seasons so much is zen buddism strongly believes everything we are experiencing right now is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Like tea party you are having right now will never be the same as the tea party tomorrow. That’s why it emphasizes showing thankfulness to everything, moment to moment. I hope I am expressing my love for tea ceremony.

Yes you are! It sounds fascinating. Is your interest in ceramics related in anyway?

Yeah, at the beginning I wanted to make my own ceramic tea bowl and other utensils. But simply I love crafts., I am free when I am creative. I was searching ceramics lessons on the web, and there is one school that I really wanna visit. They were saying something like “it is not just making cups and dishes. When you talk with the earth by touching or playing with clay they will let you know what they wanna be. ” I just loved “talking with the earth” part !

In both the tea ceremony and your interest in ceramics, you seem to be somehow getting grounded and more connected to mother nature. Has being back in Japan heightened that feeling of connection too?

Yes, I think so…
I bet you have experienced the same, we know more about our country once we get out of the place. If I had stayed in Japan and didn’t come to the US, I don’t think I would appreciate traditional culture or mother nature this much. Now I am back in Japan, and I am closer to the things I’ve been missing.

Funny thing is that now I started missing US, California, LA, and OC… Pictures come up to my mind quite often are:
1) Me driving on 405, under blue sky, feeling cool breeze
2) BBQ at the park, sunny day, green grass
3) Laguna Beach (my most favorite place on this planet, I really wanna do a beach wedding in Laguna lol), orange sun sinking to the horizon
4) the Whole foods market, fresh rasberries 😀
5) Arrowhead lake, birds, lake surface with shining reflection of the sunset
I thought I couldn’t enjoy changes in seasons in California, but I guess I was still very much enjoying and connected to the nature when I was in the US. Even I am not there, now I am really feeling these sceneries through my senses.
My body and senses remember the experience….hum… I am fulfilled…

Nao, the OC misses you too!

Interested in coach training? Coaches Training Institute
Would you like to be coached? Contact Nao at Nao Yamasaki or
Penny and I at, our Japanese however is little rusty!

© The Red Barn Cooperative


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