I’m proud to report a beautiful day of 75 degree weather…the flowers are blooming….birds are singing. It’s a lovely time of year in Boston. I am into the final weeks of my Sloan career with just three more weeks of classes, one final and then it’s off to Oklahoma for some wedding planning before returning for graduation in June. However, my social calendar (as well as that of every Sloanie!) is bursting with plans for the Spring Gala (our Spring “MBA Prom”, if you will, held in a huge, gorgeous mansion in Newport, Rhode Island), the Sloan Olympics (my core team is going to dominate the core-team legged race again!), the Follies, and many more exciting events. But first things, first! I promised you my tales of Japan!
The Japan Trek was incredible. Hats off to the amazing team of Japanese organizers that pulled it all together. Our ten days of travelling to, from and around Japan went so smoothly – I was so impressed. We started off our adventure in Kyoto where I visited stunning shrines and temples. Later that evening, we attended the semi-finals of a sumo wrestling tournament. It was fascinating to watch the matches, especially because of all of the ceremony involved with the presentation of the athletes. There weren’t any huge upsets, so not very many spectators threw their mats into the ring, which was slightly disappointing, but I loved participating in the excitement of the tournament.
Hiroshima and Toyota
The next two days consisted of day trips outside of Kyoto to Hiroshima and Toyota. Hiroshima was extremely moving as we were able to hear the incredible, poignant story of a Hiroshima survivor. It was so surprised at how the city has been rebuilt since the war ended. It looks like any other thriving, affluent city complete with skyscrapers, developed parks and soaring apartment complexes. I personally really enjoyed the trip to Toyota’s manufacturing facilities in Toyota City, Japan. I have studied Toyota’s production system extensively during my time at Sloan and so I really appreciated the chance to see their production line in action. Toyota is such a brilliant, innovative company and I honestly think I could have watched their welding robots for hours.
Tania, Me, Alison, Sheila and Laura at Toyota
After our stay in Kyoto we moved to a small town in the mountains famous for its natural hot springs called Hakone. It was very peaceful and serene….except for the karaoke bar in our hotel. By this time in the trip, I had already embraced the Japanese custom of karaoke as I love to sing. After our trip to Hakone, my voice was completely gone for the next two weeks or so. But being able to belt out Madonna songs at the top of my lungs in a Japanese hotel made it completely worth it. The next day it was off to see the majestic Mt. Fuji and then arrive in Tokyo!
Tania, Liz and me eating dinner at our hotel in our traditional garb
Tokyo offered so much to see and do – I think I walked some 20 miles a day trying to see it all. While we were in Tokyo, we went on more company visits and met with MIT Sloan alums in Japan. I chose to go on the Sony and NTT DoCoMo tours which were incredible. Both companies are so innovative and disciplined – I’m excited to see which products from them will hit the market next. Other students visited 7-11, Shiseido, Konami, Sony Computer Entertainment and Shinsei Bank. A highlight of Tokyo (especially for the native Bostonians) was our trip to the Tokyo Dome to watch the Boston Red Sox baseball team play the Oakland Athletics. Although Boston lost, we had a great time cheering, getting on the Jumbo-tron, and leading the entire stadium in the “wave.” My favorite area of Tokyo was Ueno Park which featured hundreds of cherry blossom trees in full bloom. My friends and I went and picnicked under the trees for hours just watching the crowds of people and eating the yummy street vendor food. Speaking of food….since I was in Japan….I did eat some sushi. Being from the landlocked state of Oklahoma known for our consumption of steak, I can’t say that sushi was a part of my meal plan growing up. So, I actually tried my first piece of sushi at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. We arrived at the fish market at 5:45 in the morning to see the auction of thousands of tuna, sea urchins and everything else that at one point inhabited the ocean. We wondered around for thirty minutes or so and then ate our sushi breakfast. I chose a piece of salmon….it tasted….good…..kind of like chewy soy sauce. But I was told by everyone else that it was the best sushi they had ever eaten. So, I’ll take their word for it.
The Sloanies cheering on their team
Back to Boston
After four days in Tokyo, it was time to hop back on the plane and come back to Boston. I loved Japan and would highly recommend that everyone visit there. The people I met in Japan were the most polite and hospitable people I have ever encountered. The country is incredibly clean, safe and absolutely beautiful. And there’s vending machines selling everything under the sun on every corner. What’s not to love?