- This is part of a series of profiles on faith and work initiatives from various faiths.
This talk was given on December 16, 2018, at Rissho Kosei-kai’s Great Sacred Hall at a gathering of more than 2,000 business owners and managers from across Japan seeking to apply Buddhism to business and management.
[Script of Ms. Keiko Kawamoto]
Hello, everyone. I am Keiko Kawamoto, the director of Gingamura RIV Research Institute. My company offers services to help child-rearing. As it was referred in the introduction on myself, I have fun with children every day. It gives me a purpose of life to interact with parents and children.
I started my business when I was struggling with my feelings of emptiness and depression. I started developing these feelings after I moved to Odawara. Away from my hometown, I had no friends. I have a real difficulty adjusting myself to a new environment.
It was around that time that I participated in a lecture held at HOJU vocational college. (Rissho Kosei-kai’s women’s college.) The speaker was a woman who herself ran her own business. “Women can shine by pursuing their dreams,” sad she. She also touched upon the “home nursery school,” which reminded me of the seven years I spent working as a nursery teacher at Kosei- Ikujien daycare. “Yes, this is it!” My heart trembled. I felt a powerful desire to work for parents and children and serve others through my work. It felt like the fog surrounding me finally lifted. So this was how I opened a home nursery school in my own house.
Sometime later, I met Ms. Seiko Mochizuki, who also ran a business of the home nursery school in Yokohama. This encounter encouraged me to set up my own company Gingamura, which offers services to help child-rearing.
My company’s motto is that “each and every person shines and finds happiness.” We aim to create a reliable daycare center where mothers can leave their children to have some “me time” to refresh and resume child-rearing with a rich spirit; an anchorage for child-rearing where mothers can discuss their child-rearing, and children meet new friends.
My business model utilizes a private homes and apartment rooms as business sites and set up daycare centers, community cafes, and nursery schools. We are also entrusted by Odawara City to manage child care support centers.
At those facilities, mothers who identify with our motto can work while doing their own child-rearing. The last ten years have passed so quickly. I tried everything that was considered good for parent and child. Now, I have more employees and operate those facilities at seven places including Yokohama and Odawara. And finally last April, we were able to establish a formal nursery.
I stated studying at Buddhist Business Manager-Juku in Kanagawa just after I opened the nursery school. My staff were already experienced nursery teachers. It was not easy to align our efforts before we developed a trusting relationship. I received complaints from each of my staff. I was desperate to resolve their dissatisfaction. The more I listened to them, the more I was swayed by what they said.
So when I heard Mr. Fukunaga said, “don’t get caught up in other’s feelings,” “don’t give into emotions,” I was moved to the point of tears. His words saved me. Looking back on those days, I dwelled on their feelings. I got swayed by them. I was struggling.
To improve the situation, what I practiced was to maintain an ardent desire in mind. I reflected on my desire, my passion on nursery, and my ideal as a nursery teacher. Then, I strived hard to embody my ideal. I also discussed it with my staff at various occasion. When rooms were messy, I myself did the cleaning. I believe that each child is unique and different, so I encouraged my staff to accept who they were. When I heard criticisms against parents, I said, “Let’s put ourselves in their shoes!” I also ask them to always try to keep a smile. Every time I notice something that needed attention, I conveyed it to them so that it would permeate their subconscious minds.
At the same time, I kept striving harder than anyone else. I read various magazines on nursery and developed my own nursery philosophy. I also tried to get close to the hearts of my staff as to what kind of nursery school they wanted to create as well as what kind of teacher they wanted to be because we are working as a team.
By conveying my expectation for them, their words and deeds began to change. We came to spend more time discussing child development rather criticisms and complaints.
By expressing my desire for my work, I found myself getting less and less caught up in others’ feelings. We became more considerate of each other. Our efforts were finally aligned. My staff even tell me that they want to be someone like me, who is cheerful and energetic, and that they want be someone who can think from the perspective of parents. We have become a team where everyone shines and respects others for who they are.
In fact, it was I myself that have changed the most thanks to this Juku. I’m confident that I can always find a shining light for my business if I keep elevating my mind and having an ardent, persistent desire.
I maintain the same belief that I had when I started my business. By getting close to the heart of parent and child, I aim to offer our support to more parents. I am also determined to realize our company motto based on the spirit of altruism and Buddhism, which I have inherited from my parents.
Mr. Fukunaga taught me that if I maintain an ardent, persistent desire, I can always receive support from the Buddha, and that my desire, dream, hope and earnest aspiration for my business will change not only my company but also society.
Mr. Fukunaga brought out fortitude in me with his smile and encouragement, saying “I want to support young business managers like you.”
Mr. Fukunaga, it’s regrettable that I can’t say “thank you” to you in person today. But anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you. I will continue to live earnestly with a smile. Thank you so much, Mr. Fukunaga.
Thank you very much for listening.