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Meet Japan's first female commercial airline captain Ari Fuji

(CNN) – Ari Fuji was in high school when she realized she wanted to serve her wings and become a pilot.

But growing up in Japan, where female pilots were basically uncomfortable, it was a dream that meant reaching for heaven.
"The wall was high," she tells CNN Travel. "The self-defense did not recruit women because there were no female pilots since then. I suddenly realized that the road to becoming a pilot was unexpectedly narrow."

To make matters worse, Fuji was also too small to qualify for the country's Civil Aviation College.

  Ari Fuji

Ari Fuji realized she wanted to become a pilot when she was young.

courtesy Ari Fuji

She did not give up. Instead, she looked abroad for opportunities, eventually on her way to the United States to get her pilot license.

"I didn't feel like my way was closed," Fuji explains. "I just had a relaxed feeling like," I can go abroad if Japan is not the right place. ""

Having obtained her pilot license in the United States, she returned to Japan to try her

"There were many men who told me that it is impossible to become a pilot in Japan – especially a commercial airline manager. I never asked them why but I think they say "no way" just because there were no women right now. "

Breaking down barriers

] Fuji finally saw the internship program at JAL Express – a subsidiary of Japan Airlines. That opportunity paved the way for her to make history. In 2010, she became Japan's first female commercial airline captain.

  Ari Fuji

In view of naysayers, Fuji continued to become Japan's first female commercial airline captain.


Despite the performance, he donated the captain's four stripes put her under much pressure.

"Every time before training I would say in the mirror:" I am the captain, "tells Fuji.

" On the outside I felt that I could never show weakness. The last thing I wanted to hear from people if I failed was that it is still too difficult out there for women. "

With the new role came changes for Fuji and the people around her.

] "People, especially older pilots, weren't used to a female captain and had no idea how to interact with me," says Fuji.

"When I got married, one year after becoming a pilot, another pilot told me:" You have become a pilot, your dream job and got married. Why don't you stop now? I was like, "what?!" I guess he thought I as a woman just made it a hobby. "

  Ari Fuji

Besides being captain, Fuji is also a pilot instructor.


Her campaign was a momentum step forward for women. Fuji says since she became captain, she has seen more women walking into the industry and moving on in other areas.

Outside her role as captain, Fuji is also an instructor who educates the next generation of pilots –

"I want them to put their own lifestyle and know that sex is not a problem. When I became captain, several reports were released and said that I had achieved something meaningful and it surprised me to have a female captain could be news. For me, I suppose I played a role in promoting the fact that women can also be pilots, she says.

And according to Fuji, Japan's civil aviation college lowered its height requirement after she became captain.

"I sometimes tell people this story joke but I changed the rule."

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