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Meet Megumi

“I take pride in my Japanese identity”

We’re celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander (API) heritage month with stories from the API community. We met up with and spoke to a few of our Lush team members, including Megumi, who were kind enough to reminisce about their childhoods, share their stories, and give us all an intimate look into their lives.

This is Megumi’s story.

Tell me about a place that’s shaped who you are.

Shanghai, China. My family and I moved to the city in 2006, and that was my first experience being a foreigner, to experience the “otherness”. Spending my teenage years there was crucial to my personal development because it opened my eyes to foreign cultures, made me reflect on what it means to be Japanese, and cultivated the open-mindedness toward “others”. The ability to look at Japanese culture from an insider’s perspective as well as from outsider’s allowed me to grow the mentality to be a global citizen.

What's something about your culture or heritage that brings you joy?

  • The wabi-sabi mentality—finding beauty in imperfection and incompleteness, and embracing simplicity of life.
  • Celebrating seasonality through holidays, food, and rituals to reminisce the passing of time but to welcome new changes.
  • Food! Especially the culinary expertise and curiosity in eating seafood.

Megumi enjoys finding the beauty in imperfection and incompleteness.

A bowl with cracks filled in with gold sits on a canvas sheet beside a yellow flower.

Photo credit: Kintsugi bowl by Naoko Fukumaru and property of Bryan Mulvihill

Can you share a memory that’s shaped who you are and why?

Looking after my family’s documents and official records since we moved to China, because I was the most fluent in Chinese. I remember being an 11-year-old talking to anyone, from local plumbers to border services, to support our family’s life. It made me very independent at a young age, which ultimately convinced my parents and myself to move to Canada.

Tell me about an item that’s important to who you are?

A small crossbody bag that my mom gave me. It was a bag that she used when she was working in her 20s. It was sleeping in a cardboard box for good 20 years before I discovered it when we were doing spring cleaning one year. Since then, it has travelled with me across the world, kept my essentials safe rain or shine. Obviously, it's not in its best condition anymore, but it always reminds me of my free spirit and curiosity. My mom wasn't impressed when she learned that I use them daily (it was supposed to be for classy occasions), but always smiles when I show her pictures of me travelling with the bag.

A bag Megumi’s mother gave her reminds her of her free spirit and curiosity.

A black handbag sits against a canvas cloth with a pair of black sunglasses.

What’s something you’ve learned from older members of your community?

My grandmother taught me the traditional Japanese matcha tea ceremony because she used to be the instructor. She taught me how to prepare and serve, to receive and taste, and enjoy depth of flavor with paired food items. Matcha served at tea ceremonies is not sweetened, without dairy so obviously it was so bitter for a 10-year-old’s taste buds, but I enjoyed learning about the beauty of hospitality, and I enjoyed celebrating seasons through different food pairing.

A traditional Japanese matcha tea setting is a fond memory for Megumi.

A matcha tea setting showcases a bowl, dried tea and napkin sitting on a table.

What makes you feel safe and supported?

I feel safe when there are clear statements against discrimination and intolerance, when everyone is held accountable of their actions and inactions, and when I can spot other AAPI folks in the room prospering. I feel supported when I know that I am seen and heard beyond my racial identity. I take pride in my Japanese identity and it shapes who I am as a person, but I am so much more than just being Japanese.

For more stories and ways in which you can support the API community, check out our other resources.

A very special thanks and credit to: