Introduction to the Founder of Helping Dragon: PJ

We care about Everybody’s why

On helpingdragon.com we will be sharing with you everybody’s why. 

Not only of the people we interview but our team members as well. We hope that this will encourage you to come and find out how we think and how we live our lives ^ ^

First one up will be the founder of helpingdragon.com, PJ.

PJ in the afterparty of ArtFairTokyo

I’m Japanese and was born in Shonan, near Yokohama. 

The meaning behind my Japanese name “Ryusuke” that my father gave me is significant because “Ryu=龍” means dragon, and “suke=介” means to help. My father wanted me to grow up to become “strong as a dragon and to help others.”

I grew up in the Bay Area in-between San Francisco and San Jose.

PJ’s hometown is a lagoon town full of nature and parks

PJ spent his high school life in Kisarazu, Chiba then moved onto university in Ritsumeikan in Kyoto.

After ultimately declining a graduate job offer to work at UBS Bank in Singapore, I tried my hand at many part-time jobs, mainly in the catering industry.

I then spent my twenties as a writer/interpreter where I traveled to multiple cities, developing a passion for cooking with local ingredients and tasting local wines.

Now 31 years old, I am settled in Otaru, again by the beach like where I was born and raised.

What shaped me into who I am

I had a special relationship with my grandpa. Not only was I born on the exact day that my grandmother died, but I was born at 6:17 pm, the same numbers as in my grandpa’s birthday of 6/17.

The bond shared between my grandpa and his only grandson lasted until my grandpa’s death and I consider myself lucky to have been so doted on by him.

This has made me into the kind of person that always thinks, “will my grandpa be happy if I do what I am about to do?”

Best mentor? My dad 

My dad and I disagree with each other often, but he is the one who shaped me into who I am today.

He is very intelligent and very strong, which I respect, and he worked in a trading firm in Japan, who posted him to work in India and San Francisco.

His nickname is “perokuma” which kind of translates to “munching/gobbling bear.” Good food goes in seconds when it is served to him. 

Like a lot of small business owners, he loves skiing in the winter and golfing in the summer, but if the weather isn’t good enough, he will happily spend his day hard at work.

He earned this lifestyle after leaving his corporate job and living off beansprouts and part-time work in the snow to grow his business to what it is today.

PJ picked up snowsports just like his dad did

Mom taught me that life is not only about money

My mom used to co-own a restaurant in Silicon Valley. My parents divorced, so I don’t have many memories with her, but she is the kind of person that always stands in the kitchen drinking her wine and is happy cooking. 

PJ and his mom in a Spanish Restaurant in Portland

Her co-owned izakaya Yumeya, grew to be fully booked most nights, probably because her philosophy while running the restaurant was, “I want the people in the neighborhood to experience an izakaya menu in a more affordable price.”

Naturally, I became a foodie too. Experimentation and the pairing of the food and drinks that sometimes make 1+1=3 or 4 or even 100, fascinated me.

PJ’s brunch that he loves to make

Coincidental encounters led PJ not to become a chef

As many of you might easily guess, my goal was to become a chef at first. But a back injury and some other chance meetings with mentors along the way have led me down a different path.

Via banking, interpreting, and wine serving, I eventually ended up on the path of starting a business to promote businesses from Japan overseas.

PJ likes to visit Burgundy every year

Business Enhancer, Helping Dragon.

In Japan we have a tradition of “Fukumimi,” “Fuku=福” is “fortune” and “mimi=耳” is “ear.” We say people have “Fukumimi” when your earlobe is so big you can put a piece of uncooked rice on top of it. 

In my case, I could probably put 5 or 6 on it lol. When I was still a child, I remember my mom grabbing my ear often always telling me, “You have a really big “fukumimi.” You will bring fortune to yourself and to your surroundings.”

After being surrounded by fabulous friends and mentors, my life has been full of “being helped” rather than “helping people.” That is my “why” for founding helpingdragon.com, in the hope to return the favor.

On the journey to where it will reach

Helpingdragon.com is run by a small team of enthusiasts that are seeking to provide something meaningful to the world. 

I love to hike up mountains with friends, but to me climbing which mountain isn’t really important. If my friends want to climb Mt. Everest, I will find out how to climb it with them. If my friends want to climb Mt.Fuji, I will cater to that as well. Helpingdragon.com will not only be a platform that will make our readers happy, but also be a place where my friends can decide which summit they want to climb, and I will be there to direct everything to make that happen. We only need to have one thing in common, and that will be that making helpingdragon stronger so it helps more people.

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