Overlooking the presently parched, mighty Mekong River from her third floor office, Chisato ponders solutions to the country’s most pressing environmental issues while guzzling the nation’s water supply at a ridiculous rate. Working for IUCN Lao has transformed the once rigid anthropologist into a more accepting human being, ie: warming up to s.c.i.e.n.c.e?! (gasp) Taking a livelihoods approach to conservation, she has learned the importance of balance and interconnectedness of environment, people, and change. Her tasks involve capacity building, networking, fieldwork, travel, and reporting. Now focusing on the cross-cutting governance theme, she leads the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG), collaborating with the Department of Forestry Inspection (DoFI) to combat illegal logging. A Japanese-American “in disguise” as a Lao national, engaging with government, private sector, and civil society in tackling timber theft… Chisato fantasizes 007, minus the guns.
Laid back Laos has helped Chisato quit a long-standing, nasty habit of high heels and now lives a healthy, stiletto-free life. Occasional cravings kick in, but she regularly enjoys pedaling her bicycle along the meandering Mekong in the comfort of bare feet and flip flops. During the weekends, she indulges in an aura of non-attachment at the temple’s meditation sessions. (also with bare feet) She is no where near Buddha-hood but has learned to endure that pins and needles feeling.
She lives in a peaceful neighborhood with her dear gluttonous cats and garrulous Swede. Mornings are greeted with the “kaka doodle doo” of their neighbor’s rooster and mad, chuckling hens, while in the evening, the soothing echo of the Buddhist gong resonates through the air. When not gulping ice chocolate, speaking “Laoenglinese” (Lao-English-Japanese), and strumming the geee-tar, she puts her martial arts training to good use in the evenings, aggressively zapping mosquitoes with the electric bug-killing racket, Rambo style. Her average is 65 kills. She absolutely loves beautiful Laos and looks forward to fluency in Lao language, mango season, and countryside road trip adventures!