Kumiko Shichijo, a 60-year-old who runs a real estate business in Takamatsu, has garnered more than 130,000 followers on Instagram in just a year and is now an influencer who shares advice in English about Japanese etiquette with foreigners.

"Through etiquette, I hope to convey the Japanese people's compassion and the Japanese spirit of harmony," she said with a smile. "That's because I want visitors from abroad to enjoy Japan with respect."

Shichijo lived in New York and Hong Kong for 22 years and has worked as an interpreter. She returned to her hometown in 2017 and while running her family's real estate business, Shichijo came up with the idea of using social media to convey the beauty and splendidness of Japanese culture.

She wanted others to have a proper understanding of the Japanese way of life and its culture, which is often misunderstood overseas, Shichijo said. Utilizing her English skills and her knowledge of Japanese culture such as the tea ceremony, flower arrangement and calligraphy, all of which she took up when she was young, Shichijo started posting on Instagram in March last year.

Kumiko Shichijo prepares for a live stream from Takamatsu.

As of March 11 this year, she has made 56 posts, all in English. In posts on Japanese etiquette, Shichijo, dressed in kimono, addresses proper table manners, such as how to use chopsticks, how to open the lid of a soup bowl and how to hold a bowl. She also teaches what to do when entering a front door, as well as when stepping into a Japanese tatami room, showing in person both bad examples and the correct ways.

In addition, Shichijo also posts recommendations on places to visit in Kagawa Prefecture, such as Ritsurin Garden, Kimbuchi forest park, Shirotori Shrine and Yashima Temple. She also introduces Japanese dance as well as how to celebrate the New Year in Japan.

Shichijo gets help from her family members with the shooting and adds background music to her posts. She also streams live on Instagram every Monday.

With the Osaka World Expo, the Setouchi Triennale and other major events scheduled to be held next year, Japan is expecting to welcome many visitors from abroad.

"If foreign visitors will observe manners and etiquette, their hosts will be at ease as well," Shichijo said. "I plan to also post about how to behave when visiting accommodations and tourist facilities."

The Shikoku Shimbun

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