Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Year-end Events at SCBWI Japan

Post by Cam M. Sato, Tokyo, Japan 

As another year comes to a close, it’s time to think about the year we are leaving behind as well as the one we are heading into. There’s no better place to do that than among friends.

On December 1, 2019, a small group from SCBWI Japan welcomed Daphne Lee, an editor for Scholastic Asia, and her daughter to Japan for dinner at one of our favorite eateries, Un Café.

We learned about Daphne’s passion for getting more stories about Asia written by Asians. She said one of the biggest hurdles was the fact that many readers in Asia only want to read writers who have first found success in the west. Many great stories and writers go unpublished because of this demand. Daphne hopes that this trend will change and is actively involved with the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), which gives children’s writers and illustrators from Asia the opportunity to learn about marketing their publications both regionally and globally.

Daphne recently published Be Yourself, Baba!, a picture book by SCBWI Japan member Hitomi Otani, who had brought the work to several Creative Exchanges. Congratulations to Daphne and Hitomi on the birth of Baba!

Daphne Lee (left) and Hitomi Otani

A week later, on December 7, 2019, a group of us met at the Tokyo Women’s Plaza in Shibuya for another Creative Exchange. It was heartwarming to see so many people show up to share their work and to support their fellow creators.

It’s always a bit scary to show our raw work to others, but it’s an important step. We know our own stories and characters so well, we are sometimes unaware of the fact that our audience may be missing an important key to understanding exactly what we are trying to say. Getting it right can make all the difference.

Some of the stories and illustrations that were presented we had seen before, and it was interesting to see how they had changed based on prior critiques. Some stories went wordless, some were expanded a bit, and some completely changed age groups.

With all the stories, old and new, it was exciting to think about their possibilities and the directions they could go in. And to be honest, I can’t wait to see them again in a future creative exchange to see how they have developed.

After reveling in each other’s stories to the limit of our time, many of us headed downstairs to Un Café for our year-end party where we continued talking about our stories, our lives, our successes and dreams. Content among friends old and new.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year filled with love, laughter, and dreams come true!

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