Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Creative Exchange and Bonenkai 2018: A Time for Reflection

Event Write-Up


Post by Cam M. Sato, Tokyo, Japan


On December 9, 2018, we met in Shibuya at the Tokyo Women’s Plaza for our final Creative Exchange for the year. We discussed picture books, illustrations, middle grade, and young adult fiction. All of the stories we looked at were at different stages of development; some were still in the initial stages of being formed and molded while others were closer to being polished. It was exciting to see that every piece had its strong points as well as things that could be improved.


Everyone from pro to novice benefits from sharing their work. It’s this sharing that helps us to stay on task and to find out what is working in our projects and what isn’t quite working yet. And for those of us who may be a bit discouraged in our progress, we can be reminded that just because our piece hasn’t found the right person to buy it yet, it doesn’t mean we should give up on it and throw it away.


Getting together may also inspire us to try something totally different and out of our comfort zone such as making a portrait collage or writing a poem or novel. And even if what we make doesn’t quite make sense at first, there’s always someone there to support us and guide us, to help us to polish our work so others can understand our vision.


After the Exchange, we headed downstairs for a delicious bonenkai lunch served by the friendly Un Café staff. Once settled and lunch ordered, we went around the table and listed our creative accomplishments for the year as well as our goals for 2019. And the cool thing was, we had all managed to make progress in our creative lives.


SCBWI Japan crowd during the 2018 bonenkai lunch at Un Café


For me, attending SCBWI Japan events has figured large in helping me progress toward my creative goals. There were many events to choose from in 2018 from creative exchanges and sketch and word crawls to bigger events such as Telling Stories in Layers with Ellen Weinstein, Translation Day, Picture Book Day with Art Director Saho Fuji, Working with US Agents, Editors, and Publishers, The Kerlan Collection with curator Lisa Von Drasek, and KidLit Create Day. And for having access to all of these events, I’m grateful. I felt cheered on and am ready to face a new year of creating and reaching for my goals.


Thank you the Regional Team of Holly Thompson, Mariko Nagai, Naomi Kojima, and Avery Fischer Udagawa for putting together a full year of amazing events. And thank you to all of you who support SCBWI Japan by attending these events. Here is to another great year.




Cam M. Sato is a poet, author, and editor. You can learn more about her at