The Japanese Team Members

Sophia Lee

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Mami Suzuki (Lead Japanese Project Manager)

Mami took over the lead role of the Japanese team just when the Japanese team was maturing and serving more clients, with the emphasis shifting from Korean<>Japanese to English<>Japanese. A Japan-based localization program manager at Coinbase shared his feedback: “CF demonstrated their ability to deliver ‘publishable’ translations that would require no review on our end in their deliverable languages including Japanese.”

Mami is an outlier with an atypical career path that entails her love of music as well as language work and writing. She started playing the piano at age 3 and received a golden record for winning first place at Yamaha Junior Piano Competition. The piano was soon swapped out for a jazz saxophone, however, after listening to Sonny Rollins at age 15 and falling in love. The Big Band group she played for in college won 5th place at the Yamano Big Band Jazz Contest, and she joined SoCal Jazz Academy for 2 years while living in California. Mami is still busy practicing her instrument, with a stage performance scheduled later this month.

Mami studied law at Keio University while continuing to pursue her interest in language and literature. Her nose was buried in French books more than law books, and her thesis on mikudarihan dealt heavily with literary aspects in legal studies. Mikudarihan (三行半) — literally meaning 3 lines and a half — is a divorce letter that a husband gives to his wife that served as a legally effective document during the Edo period.

Mami’s acute sense of languages began at age 8, when her father’s work took her overseas and she was thrown into the American school system without any knowledge of English. Her keen perception of words and their layered meaning have been honed since that time. Later, she went on to develop her career as a Japanese writer and copywriter at a Japanese advertising agency where she also trained junior writers. At Sony Pictures Entertainment, she further cultivated her project management skills ranging from programming, acquisition and original program production. She remembers one project working on the original arrangement of the theme song of the American show “CSI.” With her promotion at stake, she even had a Japanese artist perform it. For many other TV series, she helped to create Japanese localized titles and marketing copy.

Hirotaka Inoue (井上大剛, Lead Japanese Language Expert)

Hirotaka joined Culture Flipper as one of the first in-house Japanese team members. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Language Education from International Christian University in Japan, where nearly half of the courses are taught in English. This multilingual educational approach gave him a comparative, comprehensive perspective while deepening his knowledge of his mother tongue. He taught Japanese to foreign students and took courses on translation, passionate about finding ways to capture subtle nuances of the source text in Japanese. Upon graduating, he worked extensively as an editor in the publishing sector and a reviewer in the translation sector before becoming a prolific independent translator with more than 10 published books. They include:
ChatGPTと語る未来 AIで人間の可能性を最大限に引き出す (Impromptu: Amplifying Our Humanity Through AI by Reid Hoffman); WILDERNESS AND RISK 荒ぶる自然と人間をめぐる10のエピソード (Classic Krakauer: Essays on Wilderness and Risk by Jon Krakauer); DRINK あなたが口にする「飲み物」のウソ・ホント (Drinkology: The Science of What We Drink and What It Does to Us, from Milks to Martinis by Alexis Willett); インダストリーX.0 (Industry X.0: Realizing Digital Value in Industrial Sectors by Eric Schaeffer); and ウィンストン・チャーチル ヒトラーから世界を救った男 (Darkest Hour by Anthony McCarten).

Like many of his colleagues at Culture Flipper, Hirotaka is a voracious reader who averages 100+ books per year. The floor of his study in his home is caving in with the weight of thousands of books. When not delving into the written word, his curious mind loves learning about the possibilities of the human body and spirit. A decade-long practice of martial arts, including Judo and Karate, has been a part of that journey.

Yuki Katsura (Japanese Copyeditor & Project Coordinator)

As the Japanese Team’s copyeditor, Yuki makes sure that deliverables meet her high standards. She has more than 20 years of experience in publishing: 8 years working as a literary agent at the Japan UNI Agency and 13 years as an assistant for an internationally renowned Japanese novelist. Her attachment to the written word is so strong that she identifies herself as an addict because she feels anxious when she doesn’t see everything in the written form—not an uncommon symptom for the many language-minded digital nomads at Culture Flipper.

Having spent the first 3 years of life in Basel, Switzerland, Western influences are evident in Yuki’s student years: various courses in German, Spanish, Latin, Italian, French and musicology as well as a year-long research in Vienna, Austria. Her love of Bach culminated in her playing “Prelude and Fugue in A minor” and “Toccata and Fugue in D minor (Dorian)” on a pipe organ at the on-campus church at International Christian University, Japan. She continued to pursue her musical study at The University of Tokyo and graduated with the Master’s thesis “Reconsidering the City of Music: Street Music in 19th C. Vienna.” These days, she’s a BTS devotee as part of ARMY.

In addition to books, music, drama and language, Yuki is very much into culinary arts. She attends a Korean cooking class and is mastering making Korean dishes such as jajangmyeon (black bean paste noodle), mullaengmyeon (cold noodle in broth), samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup), doenjangjjigae (fermented bean paste stew) and kimchi fried rice. Jogging and kintsugi are also her favorite leisure activities.