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international women's day

International Women’s Day-A Word from the Founder, Ayumi Chikamoto

Thalia Harris

Thalia Harris


International Women’s Day is on March 8th, celebrating women’s achievements in business and society. Today, we got to speak with the founder of Sakuraco, Ayumi Chikamoto! She was able to share some insight into her thoughts on International Women’s Day, her career, and Sakuraco itself.

Ayumi originally founded Sakuraco in 2021 as a sister service to TokyoTreat. Sakuraco focuses on traditional Japanese snacks that provide a relaxing afternoon tea experience. The curated snacks come from multi-generational artisans throughout Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Through this subscription service, Ayumi aims to “represent Japan through authentic Japanese snacks and to provide the afternoon tea experience that is so ingrained in Japanese culture.” Each monthly box highlights local makers from Japan and brings their artisanal snacks straight to people’s doorstep. This philosophy has brought Sakuraco great success and popularity worldwide.

Ayumi’s Thoughts about International Women’s Day

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

There are three reasons why I think it’s important. The first reason is to raise awareness about women’s rights, challenges, and achievements. By reminding society of women’s existence and celebrating their contributions, we can promote understanding and support for equality.

Two women enjoying Japanese snacks from the Sakuraco gift box for International Women's Day
“I still think it’s essential for [women] to prioritize living their lives in a way that makes them happy.” Ayumi mentioned for International Women’s Day

The second reason is to highlight our commitment to equality. As female leaders, International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to resisting and fighting against gender-based discrimination and prejudice. Not only is it essential for the development of organizations, but also society as a whole.

Finally, we want to promote women’s leadership. This day International Women’s Day encourages women to advance and fulfill leadership positions. We feel that women’s perspectives and leadership foster diversity and creativity and greatly impact decision-making in organizations and countries.

What message of hope and empowerment would you share with women worldwide on International Women’s Day?

Even though women are becoming more active in society worldwide, I still think it’s essential for them to prioritize living their lives in a way that makes them happy.

Thoughts on founding ICHIGO

What was your inspiration behind creating ICHIGO?

We have more foreign tourists coming to Japan each year, and they buy a lot of Japanese products. Because of this, I believe these products have hidden qualities that not even locals know. So that gave me the idea to start my own business.

Ayumi Chikamoto examining snacks from a local maker's factory for International Women's Day
“I believe [Japanese] products have hidden qualities not even locals know. So that gave me the idea to start my own business.”

Have you faced any barriers in your career? If so, how did you overcome them?

Between quitting my previous job and founding ICHIGO, I was frustrated because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, let alone what I should do. However, by planning extensively, figuring out what I wanted to do the most, how I wanted to contribute to society, and then taking action, I could turn it into a business gradually.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

It’s not about whether you can do it or not; it’s about whether you do it.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

I still think this business is a work in progress, so I have yet to say I’ve achieved anything significant.

In balancing work and personal life, especially as a mother and a female CEO, how do you manage your schedule, and what are your top priorities?

My first priority is to try to make sure my children have a happy life, but when it comes to childcare and housework, I don’t try to do everything on my own but rather rely on my husband, parents, government services, and other people to help. I feel that by doing this, I can keep my mental health in good condition without putting too much pressure on myself.

Thoughts About Sakuraco

In your opinion, why is it important to highlight artisanal snacks from across Japan?

It’s important to highlight these snacks because they exhibit Japan’s variety across regions and climates. Also, because Japan has four distinct seasons, many wagashi (traditional Japanese snacks) have different ingredients, seasonings, and appearances depending on the region. Plus, all of them are delicious, so I’d like to introduce them to the world as a regional attraction.

A woman holding a cherry blossom snack box from Sakuraco for International Women's Day
“It’s important to highlight these snacks because they exhibit Japan’s variety across regions and climates.”

Which Sakuraco box theme from the past year is your personal favorite?

Definitely the sakura one. First of all, I really like cherry blossoms and I love its seasonal sweets and tea. It’s also a very popular theme with our customers, so I’m happy to be able to share their deliciousness and beauty.

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