Category Archives: Japan

MIM Asia Field Study Part 2 – China

By Jake Culian

Last time we discussed our travels through Japan, but as soon as that was over the MIM cohort of 2015 dashed off to Shanghai.  While we had all greatly enjoyed Japan it was time to continue our adventure and visit one of the largest cities in China.  To start things off we had lunch on our first full day there on the eastern side of Shanghai.  In the background you can see faintly one of the tallest buildings in Shanghai.

China 1

One of the first companies we went to visit was an electronic car components manufacturer named Hella.  Hella is a German based firm with 4 facilities in China and we got to visit their Chinese headquarters.  This firm produces many car parts which include circuit boards or other electronic components and this facility prides itself for having the lowest defect rate among Hella factories.  After viewing their factory we got to talk to a top facility manager who was able to discuss with us many of the issues of their business in Shanghai and new market trends.

China 2

While we had traveled by bus on all our company visits in Tokyo while in Shanghai we got a special treat and got to ride the bullet train up to Nanjing to visit one of the Hanes factories.  It was amazing watching the speedometer march up towards 300 km/hr and not feel anything.  The Hanes factory was interesting in that they actually ship 70% of their yarn to China from the US and then ship the cut products elsewhere to be made into garments and finally back to the US as a finished good.  The excitement wasn’t over though because on our way back into Shanghai our train stopped less than a mile outside the station for an hour because of technical issues.  Guess everything can’t go smoothly.

China 3

One of our two cultural excursions during the China section of the trip took place in Nanjing where we got to visit the Nanjing History Museum.  Never one to miss the opportunity for a photo when we saw the development of man pictures we just had to recreate them as a development of the modern businessman.  The museum had a wide variety of artifacts from many different periods of Chinese history including pottery, art, furniture and recreations.

China 4

The next day we returned to making company visits and this time visited a Toll Global Forwarding facility located nearby our hotel in Shanghai.  The Toll Group is an Australian based logistics solutions provider which prided itself on coming up with innovative total solutions which help companies in more ways than just cutting costs in logistics.  In the background you can see an example of these logistics solutions where they would pick and pack multiple types of wine and send them together to end users as a way of saving their customer an addition step in the shipping process.

China 5

One of my personal favorite things about Shanghai was how centrally located we were.  Below you can see the hotel with a spaceship on top.  That’s the Radisson Blue Hotel and it’s located on Nanjing Road, a major commercial area with lots of shopping and amazing food.  From the hot pot restaurant we nicknamed painful pot to the Xinjiang style restaurant 2 blocks from where we were staying we never lacked for good food.  The park across the street had a really fun bar in a little pond as well.  Then of course there were the two buildings we decided were probably Sauron’s tower, one of which you can see right in the middle here.

China 6

My favorite company visit was this one below, a flavoring and fragrance company called Symrise.  Our host was a little hesitant about our visit and started out not entirely pleased to see us, but like everyone we have visited on this trip so far we were able to win them all over.  Everyone we have talked to so far has been surprised how international our cohort is and then even more surprised how challenging the questions we ask are.  Since school has started some class members have struggled with being forced to speak up and exit their comfort zones, but now we get to see the vast rewards as potential employers are impressed time and again by the level of thought we present.

China 7

Our second cultural tour was visiting Suzhou University about an hour and a half outside of Shanghai.  This was the second of three colleges that we will visit and seeing how different programs work is an extremely valuable part of this trip.  In addition it allows us to start making connections with people who are going to be working in the same sort of fields we will be.  The students guided us around Suzhou and then took us to a large garden complex.  It was fun getting to walk around a more traditional Chinese city and cool to get to know more international students.

China 8

As business students it would never do to leave a city like Shanghai without doing some firsthand research on local small business strategy.  Towards this end many of visited the old market district up near the bund above our hotel.  Walking through the market was a little bit of an overwhelming experience with huge numbers of people and endless little shops.  Since this is China they also take their lights and colors seriously as can be seen below.  Don’t let the colorful exterior fool you though, the shop owners are vicious bargainers.

China 9

And now we come to the end of our time in Shanghai and the beginning of the next adventure.  Our time in Shanghai wasn’t very long, only until the afternoon of Friday the 13th but we all had a fun time.  As the trip kept going we all started getting tired from the constant running around, but with only one country left we can’t stop now.  Here we’re waiting with our brave program director in the Shanghai International Airport for our airline to let us check in.  It was a great time in Shanghai, and next stop Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam!

China 10


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Filed under Asia Trip, Business and Asia, Business Tours, China, Food, Japan, Vietnam

MIM Asia Field Study Part 1 – Japan

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.



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Asia-Pacific News Highlights Feb. 18-24

This week’s articles cover Japan’s struggling export model, fine whiskey, income inequality in China,
concerning military buildups in the Asia-Pacific, and China’s new claim to fame.


From Reuters – Japan had enjoyed a favorable trade surplus for much of the last few decades. With the
economy still floundering, this seems to be changing.

From Forbes – When people think fine whiskey, they may think Ireland, Canada, or the southern United

States. Think again, Japan is hot on their heels!


From The Diplomat – China has launched a massive campaign to tackle income inequality and bridge the
rural-urban divide that has emerged since Reform and Opening was implemented.

From Russia Today – Without much fanfare, China has surpass the United States as the world’s largest
trader of goods. The US has held this position for the past six decades.


From The Diplomat – A frightening, yet comforting, article drawing parallels between military buildups in
Europe in the 1910’s and modern day Asia.

Lucas Hudson

Luke_HudsonLucas Hudson is a full-time student in the Masters of International Management program. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Spanish from the University of Oregon. During his studies, he lived in Valdivia, Chile, studying Spanish language and Latin American history. After graduation, Luke has spent his time traveling extensively throughout South America and working as a banker and accountant for local Portland businesses. He is interested in using his business experience and language skills to find a career that will allow him build relations between Latin America and the Asia-Pacific.

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Current student shares advice on doing business in Japan

Our class is heading to Asia in March, and to  prepare we are sharing some business tips for the countries that we will be visiting. Matt Pettigrew lived in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefectur for two years. He was kind enough to share some tips that he learned from living abroad and experiencing Japan first hand.
Matt and his wife Bethany in front of the Golden Poo (Asahi Beer building)

Matt and his wife Bethany in front of the Golden Poo (Asahi Beer building)


Respect and Hierarchy 

I think the most accessible way to put Japanese business culture into perspective is in terms of “respect”.   In Japanese business culture it is assumed that everyone must show respect to their superiors. Who are your superiors, anyone who is older than you or in a more advanced position than you. If you are unsure if someone is your superior, it is best to assume they are until proven otherwise. The Japanese adherence to this hierarchy system can sometimes be quite strict, as someone who is even one month older than you is technically your superior and deserves your respect.Once you have determined who your superiors are, then you need to know the Japanese ways of showing respect. Some ways of showing respect are similar in Western countries, such as not interrupting others, letting others go before you, giving up your seat for elderly, opening doors for others and using polite words/phrases whenever possible. But there are some other ways of showing respect, which are uniquely Japanese:

1. Bowing: Is used in Japanese culture for greetings, farewells, apologies, congratulations, and whenever you feel like it. Boys bow with hands at their sides, girls bow with hands crossed in front. The deeper the bow, the more respect you are showing, and the longer you hold the bow also shows how much respect you give. That new 18 year old intern who just swept the floor deserves a 15 degree bow and a thank you. The department manager whose dog you just ran over deserves a full 90 degree bow, held for 6 seconds and the most polite apology possible. Actually, anything longer than 3 seconds for a bow seems kind of ridiculous and should be reserved for apologies. Sometimes you will also see rapid-fire bowing, (5 bows in 3 seconds), which can also be very respectful, but whenever I see a non-Japanese person do it, it always looks sarcastic for some reason.

2. Keigo: This is the special “polite” verbs and nouns that are used in Japanese when talking to your superiors. If you have studied Japanese language, you have probably come across the varying degrees of politeness, and have been told when and where to use them. If you haven’t studied Japanese language, it is not expected of you to use these words at all, so don’t worry.

3. Disagreeing: Don’t disagree with your superiors in front of a group, ever. If you need to bring up something that you disagree with, do it in private.

Random Etiquette

Business Cards: When someone gives you their business card, receive it with two hands, and don’t put it in your pocket until you have said goodbye to them. If you sit down while talking with them, put the card on the table as you talk. The card represents the person, and should be treated with respect.

Chopsticks: Don’t stab your chopsticks into your rice and leave them sticking up! That’s what they do at funerals, so don’t do it. Also don’t pass food from one person to another using chopsticks to chopsticks, it is rude!

Noodles: Slurping noodles is normal.

Party seating: Seating arrangements at parties demonstrate who is most deserving of respect. The seat furthest from the door and/or closest to the featured room decoration is the place of honor. The opposite seat (closest to the door, furthest from the decoration) is the lowest in the hierarchy or is used by whoever’s job it is to organize the party. So don’t show up and take whatever seat you want, because usually there is assigned seating or you draw a number for your seat.

Punctuality: Be on time, which actually means be 10 minutes early, always.

Drinking: At office parties, the first drink is important and is always preceded by a short speech by someone of honorable position. After they give their speech, they will say “Kanpai!” (cheers) and then you clink glasses and then you can start drinking. Also at office parties, you never fill your own glass, whether its beer, juice, tea etc… Filling your own glass means people around you aren’t taking care of you, so let others fill your glass and make sure you fill the glass of those around you too. Filling glasses makes for great conversation starters.

Silence: Buses and trains are usually very quiet places. You can have quiet conversations with friends around you, but don’t talk on your cell phone.

When I first arrived in Japan, I didn’t know any of these unique Japanese rules. Thankfully, Japanese people are very forgiving towards foreigners when it comes to their system of respect. As foreigners we are given a lot of grace when it comes to showing proper respect, like on my first day when I met the office manager and bowed to him with my hands in my pockets. (Don’t do that!) That being said, although they will let your mistakes slide the first few times, you should do your best to respect their system. It is also a very pleasant surprise when a foreigner comes along who already knows the system and acts accordingly. Overall, it’s a great way to avoid embarrassment and to earn some brownie points as well.

Susan Forrester


 Susan Forrester is a full-time student in the Masters in International Management program. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Portland State University. After living in Seoul, South Korea for two years she was interested in finding a career that linked Oregon and Asia together through trade. Susan enjoys the diverse background of the MIM student body that allows her to frequently practice her beginner level Chinese.

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Blogs to follow for international management students

During  Fall term I started to follow blogs about Asian business, women in business and career advice. Reading blogs like the ones I’ve highlighted below kept me current on what was going on outside the classroom.


Chinaful gives the reader a first-hand observation at what it is like doing business in China, speaking Chinese, understanding the culture and enjoying the cuisine.  The author, CouScreen shot 2012-11-06 at 7.22.42 AMrtney Gould Miller is an attorney based in Los Angeles, CA. who practices outbound civil litigation for Chinese clients. I first learned about Courtney’s blog from Levo League, an online community that provides career building resources for young women; Courtney had authored a post on learning Mandarin and I was instantly intrigued by her blog. She writes about her travels around China, Mandarin pronunciation, Chinese art and current events in China.

Asia Unbound

The Council for Foreign Affairs maintains this blog, authored by leading experts from the council with occasional guest blog entries. This blog keeps readers up to date on the top stories in Asia while also providing analysis from specialized professionals. Recently, the blog has been running a series called: “Is Japan in Decline?” I found many of the posts picked up where our Pacific Rim Economies class left off at the end of the term.

Trends in Japan

Products found in Japan can sometimes confuse and spark curiosity to outsiders, like ice cucumber or sweet bean flavored Pepsi. Trends in Japanballoon-lamp-designer-floating-led-light keeps you up to date on all the new products, music, architecture and food items found throughout Japan. I enjoy visiting this blog because it always blows my mind in some small way, there are so many imaginative creations that aren’t found in the USA that I wish I could buy here in Oregon, like the LED balloon lamp, how cool is that!

Susan Forrester


Susan Forrester is a full-time student in the Masters in International Management program. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Portland State University. After living in Seoul, South Korea for two years she was interested in finding a career that linked Oregon and Asia together through trade. Susan enjoys the diverse background of the MIM student body that allows her to frequently practice her beginner level Chinese.

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Tour of Ramen in the Portland Metro Areas

After returning from the MIM Asia Trip last March and discovering the awesomeness of authentic ramen in Tokyo, Japan, I was determined to try to hunt down the best ramen in the Portland Metro area. So I rounded up a few willing participants and started the “Tour of Ramen.”

Going on tips and leads from other foodie friends, Japanese friends, and friends who have experienced Japan, Tour of Ramen went on three Ramen excursions before the whole experiment got out of control in a good way. I used a rating scale from 0-5, zero being the worst ramen to ever exist, and five being the best ramen outside of Japan in the Portland Metro area. My final judge for each ramen excursion was Naoki, our one MIM Japanese student in the 2010 cohort.

First stop for Tour of Ramen: Shogun Noodle (near Fubonn, the Asian grocery store)

2838 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97266

(503) 200-5151

Number of participants: 4 (three Americans – two whom have been to Japan, and one Japanese)

Shogun Noodle's ramen special

Shogun Noodle's ramen

Shogun Noodle's shoyu ramen

Ramen arrives, and Naoki looks at it and exclaims, “What is this?!” (Uh oh.) He explains that the broth has not been cooked long enough to give the ramen a deep flavor. The noodles are not hand made. The pork is thinly sliced, wimpy, and pretty bland compared to the thick, flavorful pieces of pork you get in your ramen in Tokyo, Japan.

Tour of Ramen Rating for Shogun Noodle (0-5): 1.5

Second stop for Tour of Ramen: Yuzu (Yuzu is tricky to find due to their lack of signage and the fact that it is a little hole in the wall place in a strip of businesses)

4130 SW 117th Ave., Suite H, Beaverton, OR 97005

(503) 350-1801

Number of Participants: 7 (Four Americans – one whom has lived in Japan for a few years, three who have been to Tokyo, Japan, a Romanian-American who speaks Japanese fluently and has also spent a significant time in Japan, a Shanghainese who spent half her life in Japan, and one Japanese)

Tour of Ramen team (3 out of 7) sample Yuzu's ramen: Naoki (MIM 2011 candidate from Japan), Raiza (MIM alumni, Romanian-American who speaks fluent Japanese), Gigi (MIM alumni, Shanhainese who spent half her life in Japan)

Yuzu's ramen

Yuzu's ramen

Yuzu's ramen

Yuzu was recommended by a Shanghai MIM alumni who spent half her life in Tokyo, Japan. Naoki was impressed with their ramen. He noted that although the noodles were not hand made, their broth had a very intense and deep flavor like that of ramen broth in Tokyo, Japan. Yuzu did a good job cooking their broth long enough to bring out the flavors. Everyone agreed Yuzu’s ramen was very tasty.

Tour of Ramen Rating for Yuzu (0-5): 4.0

Third stop for Tour of Ramen: Shigezo

910 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR 97205

(503) 688-5202

Number of Participants: 11 (A Chinese-American originally from Hong Kong, two Koreans, a Romanian-American who speaks Japanese fluently and has also spent a significant time in Japan, a Shanghainese who spent half her life in Japan, five Americans – all of whom have been to Tokyo, Japan and one who has lived in Tokyo for a few years, and one Japanese)

Tour of Ramen grows out of control to 11 participants, all jammed into a tatami room at Shigezo

Close up of Shigezo's ramen

Shigezo's tonkotsu ramen with side of soft egg and nori

Shigezo's tonkotsu ramen with side of soft egg and nori

Shigezo was recommend by a friend-of-a-friend that is from Japan (he also recommends the grilled chicken wings – order without sauce as it is served in Asia, which is, btw, very delicious). We were all impressed with Shigezo’s ramen. The portions are huge; you can order sides of egg, nori, and vegetables (ask for the sides menu if they do not give it to you initially). You can share a large bowl of ramen with two people and save a little money that way. Naoki gave Shigezo a 4.2 out of five, beating out Yuzu by 0.2. I asked why and he explained that the 0.2 extra points were given for Shigezo’s hand made noodles but that Yuzu’s broth is cooked longer and has a deeper more intense flavor than Shigezo’s broth, which is clearly not cooked quite as long. The great thing for MIMers is that Shigezo is located on the corner of SW Park and SW Salmon at the end of the South Park Blocks, walking distance from Portland State University campus! Shigezo also serves dinner until 10pm and has a late night menu until 11pm and 12am on some nights. One negative about Shigezo is that the wait for food is unpredictable, especially when they are busy and if you bring a larger party. It is not the place to go if you are in a rush to eat and run.

Tour of Ramen Rating for Shigezo (0-5): 4.2

Other ramen places to try with friends: Mirakutei and Biwa. I have been to both but not with the Tour of Ramen team and my official Japanese rater so I will refrain from giving my opinion of their ramen in this blog. Since the Tour of Ramen team keeps growing by 3-4 people each time, I don’t think either place is big enough to support 15-18 people showing up for dinner!

Mirakutei's ramen

See, it’s not all work in the Master in International Management program!

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MIM hits the road to Asia!

As the number of Asian students attending the graduate business programs at Portland State University has significantly increased over the decade, the university has been sending a representative to recruit students from Asian countries for more than ten years. Likewise, this year PSU officials will join 50 other business schools on an all-Asia tour.

In the coming September, Kelly Doherty, the assistant marketing director of PSU Graduate business programs, will travel to one city each in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The schedules are as followings.


Thursday September 1, 2011- Tokyo, Japan

Venue: Hilton Tokyo Hotel  (Address: 6-2 Nishi-Shinjuku 6-chome, Tokyo, Japan)

Time: 15:30 – 21:30


Saturday September 3, 2011- Taipei, Taiwan

Venue: Grand Formosa Regent Taipei (Address: 41, Chung Shan North Road Section 2, Taipei, Taiwan)

Time: 9:00 – 16:30


Monday September 5, 2011- Seoul, South Korea

Venue: JW Marriott (Address: 19-3 Banpo-dong Seocho-gu, Seoul, 137-040 Korea)

Time: 16:00 – 21:30


Wednesday September 7, 2011- Beijing, China

Venue: Peninsula Hotel (Address: 8 Goldfish Lane Wangfujing, Beijing, 100006 China)

Time: 15:45 – 21:30


Saturday September 10, 2011- Shanghai, China

Venue: Pudong Shangri-La (Address: 33 Fu Cheng Lu, Pudong, Shanghai 200120 China)

Time: 11:00 – 17:00


Monday September 12, 2011- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Venue: Legend Hotel Saigon (Address: 2A-4A Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Time: 16:00 – 21:30


Thursday September 15, 2011- Bangkok, Thailand

Venue: Shangri-La Hotel (Address: 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangkok, Thailand)

Time: 16:00 – 21:30


For more information, please visit


For anyone who is interested in MIM program and lives in the aforementioned countries, this would be a great opportunity to talk and discuss with our staff in details. Please come and join us!

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Filed under Business and Asia, Business Tours, China, Japan, Mao's Entries, MIM GENERAL, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam