TEDxKyoto Volunteer Profile : Ai Tokimatsu : Communication team / TED Open Translation Project


We have been very lucky to have Ai Tokimatsu working with the Communication team to translate writings for TEDxKyoto — blog posts, social media, and other material. Her work on posts (like this one!) helps to bring the themes, stories, and ideas of TEDx to a worldwide audience.

Ai has had an amazing story, and continues to inspire us with the way she has persevered. She started BabyRun in 2009 after a long and difficult battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not well understood and there is misunderstanding about it, especially in Japan. With the support of her husband Hideo and the arrival of their son, she overcame this difficulty, and went on to become active once again. People who have lost the ability to move around and go outdoors cherish the freedoms that most of us daily take for granted. It is not a surprise that Ai was ambitious when she was given a new lease on life.

See more about Baby Run at these links:

Unfortunately in 2013 she was struck with another incredible setback, an internal infection that became Sepsis. Sepsis is also known as blood poisoning — for more information about Sepsis, you should read about it on wikipedia:

or see this video which Ai and Hideo volunteered to make the Japanese version of. It raises awareness of this fatal disease:

During the long and ongoing recovery process, when she was bedridden for months, Ai found that translating TED talks was a good way to stay engaged and feel valuable. She found the TED Open Translation Project and it opened up a new door for her. She has written about her story in detail for the TED blog, and it is worth reading in full, please have a look:


One of the main things we are interested in at TEDxKyoto is good stories – people’s stories. There is nothing as touching or inspiring as the personal triumphs and challenges that individuals overcome in their daily lives. Not the trials and tribulations of world leaders and Hollywood superstars, but the regular ups and downs that we all experience as we work, play, and balance our families, friends, and hobbies.

When we meet or encounter someone who has been in a difficult situation, we can relate to them. When they have found a way out, it shines a light for us. We hear another person’s story and say “We’re similar; I have times like that – maybe I can try that solution or technique. What a relief, I’m not alone.”
Ai was perhaps the most mysterious volunteer at TEDxKyoto 2015. The TEDxKyoto Speaker Audition 2013 was her first experience and since then she attended the event as a participant. Still on the road to recovery from two relapses of Sepsis (again&again!) she couldn’t even make it to a meeting or the big day this year. Many fellow volunteers didn’t see her in person, but she was always in the middle of the action from behind the screen.

As most of the participants and staff are fully aware, TEDxKyoto has been a great platform for your encounters and experiences. Here we have Ai to share one of her significant stories, in her own words:

Ai Tokimatsu:

“I tried the Speaker Audition 2013 and became one of the finalists. None of us made it to the Morita Hall stage that year. However, that audition did change my life. That “failure” led me to a wonderful adventure.”

“We had the honorable guest, the one and only yo-yo performer ‘Black’, who performed on the stage of the TED conference earlier that year. He exclusively gave us the finalists his warmest comment. He said to us, “TED may seem to be far away from you, but it’s actually much closer than you think. TED is within your reach.”

“While I was deeply moved by his sincere encouragement, I still had a doubt somewhere in my heart. I felt like “Come on, you are the 2 time World champion in your field! I am just a housewife who recently recovered from the nightmare of CFS and started the smallest business.”

“To my surprise, about a year later, I contributed an article for the TED blog as has already been mentioned above. Not so many Japanese write for it, so I was extremely honored and became more passionate to volunteer as a translator.

“Why do I translate? I translate because it could save someone’s life. While I was devastated in pain from my first bout of Sepsis, I noticed there were so many very encouraging TED/TEDx talks that had not been subtitled in Japanese. We all need energy to keep ourselves moving forward. Technology gives us hope for a better cure. Entertainment reminds us how to laugh. Design shows us different perspectives to see things. Since most TED/TEDx speakers have overcome something extraordinary, I was so sure that at least one talk would make someone who was thinking “I can’t take it any longer” change their mind to say “Okay, I’ll try one more day.” One talk can give someone enough fuel to live another day. Another talk for another day. ”

“As I translated more talks, I became aware of the rise of TEDx events throughout Japan, but not so many organizers are enthusiastic to publish the talks in other languages. As an ex-TESL major, I thought it would be nice if everyone could understand every talk in English and many other languages, but I’m a firm believer that ideas transcend language. Yes, we at the OTP (Open translation Project) team are here for translation, but it’s up to a translator to search for the most valuable talks. No matter how fantastic the idea is, it’s easily missed since the waiting list of untranslated talks is just too long. If a speaker doesn’t speak English and the team thinks it’s okay to hold back the ideas within the country, are the ideas really worth spreading? So when I organized the second TED OTP/TEDx Workshop in Japan along with the TEDxKyoto core member meeting last April, I decided to mix translators and organizers for wider spreading our treasures. So, I was so thrilled to see the young and talented Ayana Ishiyama of TEDxSapporo appeared on the TED blog. TEDxKyoto has produced two TED talks so far. Takaharu Tezuka’s talk from TEDxKyoto 2014 was shown as a TED talk this year. TEDxKyoto is indeed a platform.

“Last but not least, I have received an invitation to the TED conference 2016 in Vancouver as a participant! Who would imagine that I, a not-so-physically-strong housewife/entrepreneur/mom of two, could go to the main conference? Yes, I was hoping to go there someday, but I thought it would take a couple of decades. I was actually so scared that I almost said no, there are plenty of much more qualified people out there! Why me? However, on second thought, I just remembered that the TED/TEDx community welcomes diversity — you never know what comes up from the mixture of the various attendees. So, as you can easily imagine now, ‘Black’ at the audition was totally right. TEDxKyoto has the “Doraemon’s dokodemo door,” including to TED. Through my attendance, the achievement of TEDxKyoto will be going in the middle of the hall. You may be the next! So let’s keep knocking on the door by spreading the ideas from Kyoto to the World!”

** Ai is another personal example of the ethic of TEDx in action. By increasing the connections between people, we make a difference. Reaching out to others, sharing our stories. Ai is someone who believes that she can help others by sharing her story, and we know that she has already done this. The Vancouver conference will be lucky to have her. She has our full support as she prepares for a huge year in 2016. Go get ‘em, Ai-san!