Japan Days 1 and 2

By: William Woska, MBA Candidate 2018

Students in the Doing Business in Japan and Singapore program arrived in Tokyo, Japan refreshed after a seven hour flight from Singapore provided students the opportunity to rest, reflect, or watch a few films on the in-flight entertainment system. After check-in at the New Otani Tokyo Garden Tower, students ventured out to sample some authentic Japanese fare. Of course, sushi and ramen were the most sought after options.

After lunch, students departed by coach on a tour of the city. Students saw famous landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower, Skytree Tower, and the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building which bears a striking resemblance to New York’s famed Empire State Building. The tour guide for the trip, Rie Oka, then led students to Sensō-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple in the Asakusa area. Students disembarked the coach for a closer look and sampled food from the many food stalls before finally reaching the temple. Shuffling through the large crowds, students then hurried back to the coach to depart for the Meiji Shrine which closed to new visitors at 4:20pm. Thanks to a peppy coach driver, students made it through the gate just before guards closed it for the day. A serene and humbling place, the shrine quieted excited students as they gazed at the torri as well as an ice sculpture exhibition featuring mythical creatures such as dragons and centaurs. With the sun setting and a chill in the air, students boarded the coach for their final tour stop of the day: the Tokyo Metropolitan Building observatory. The observatory offers a panoramic view of the city which was now lit up on a clear evening. Some students bought souvenirs from the gift shop while others took photos of the picturesque landscape.

The next day saw saw three groups of students present their projects to clients in Tokyo. All students however met with representatives from the Japan Productivity Center (JPC) in addition to the CEO of Hailo.

In the meeting with Messrs. Yoji Osaki and Kazunori, students learned about the role the JPC plays in promoting productivity in Japan’s industrial society and in improving the quality of people’s lives. Key topics included how to increase productivity in Japan without raising total hours worked since Japan scores low among developed nations in terms of overall productivity yet has one of the longest average workweeks across the same group of countries. Productivity therefore is not simply doing more. Rather, it is the integration of production and humanity.

In the afternoon session with Ryo Umezawa, CEO of Hailo, a taxi booking application, students learned about the differences between launching a product in Japan versus the United States, how to raise funds in the Japanese market versus the United States, and what sorts of traits students should look for in a successful start-up. Of course, this last piece was focused on the people. Those interested in cashing out are rarely successful. Instead, it is those people who seek to grow their business in a variety of markets, in more than one application or interface that are the most successful. Ryo would have been remiss to say luck did not play a key role in development, but he added the caveat that luck often follows the overachiever.

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