By Jake Culian
One of the coolest parts about the MIM program is the Asia trip. We left Portland for Tokyo on March 1st and were there till the 8th. We had all finished off finals the previous week and before any of us knew what was happening we were sitting in the airport waiting to fly overseas.
With the glories of the International Date Line we took off at 11am and didn’t land until 3pm the next day. After being stuck on a plane for almost 11 hours we did what any hungry college student would do… we went and found food. Needless to say we were not disappointed with the food we found here.
We had the pleasure of staying the Grand Prince Takanawa Hotel during our stay here. The first morning we all got dressed up and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. Then before we got on our bus to go visit our first company we took a group photo to commemorate the occasion.
As our very first company visit we got to see the Kewpie Mayonnaise plant. This is a really interesting facility which has the ability to automatically crack around 20,000 tons of eggs per year. We got to see these machines in action and they were quite interesting and part of a highly automated process, but like in most of the facilities we visited we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the process, so this is the line-up of salad dressings the produce which they allowed us to sample during lunch.
Later during the week we got to visit one of the Nissan plants located near Tokyo. They produce 4 kinds of cars here including the Leaf electric car all on the same assembly line and in the order they are desired. It was cool to see the differences between this plant producing regular sized cars and the Hino Toyota plant producing large trucks. In this picture one of our translators, Hiroshi from Direct Force, is helping us ask questions to the guide from Nissan.
As is probably becoming clear I really enjoyed all the opportunities we had to eat good food and no trip would be complete without the opportunity to eat from a chocolate fondue fountain.
As someone who grew up in the United States it never ceases to amaze me just how huge cities in Asia can be. From our hotel rooms we could look out across the city and see Tokyo Tower. Getting the chance to go and explore the city definitely exposed us to a vast set of cultural differences for those of us from the US and China.
Almost as important as seeing how facilities and factories work in Asia is looking at the local culture. We were given a free day to go out and explore the city on Saturday March 7th and most students explored the city. This was one of the most impressive sights anyone found, a shrine which our Thai students went to go see.
On one of the last days before we left for Shanghai we visited with a group of Japanese economics students at Tokyo Kaizi University. They really made us feel at home and helped teach us how to prepare a variety of Japanese traditional foods. Here we are trying to evenly cook Takoyaki.
Finally as we prepared to leave Tokyo to make our way to Shanghai we all posed back in the gardens behind the Grand Prince Takanawa Hotel. We had a blast visiting Japan and I know I really look forward to making it back at some point. We got a chance to grow as a cohort and see how many of the concepts we learn in class are applied in real life.