Chazen Japan: 3 hours to go!

I was so excited for this trip that I got here a week earlier than the required arrival date. For the Chazen trip, we will start in Kyoto and work our way north towards Tokyo, so I decided to start in Tokyo and work my way down, and meet the group in Kyoto. I kept a close eye on our Chazen itinerary to minimize any duplication of sightseeing and restaurants but there is so much to do here that this hasn’t been a problem. So what are my first impressions of Japan?

For starters, I have to say that I’ve never encountered a culture so polite and so respectful of each other and of visitors. I’m trying to pick up some Japanese during the trip and just learnt that there are 9 different ways of saying ‘thank you’, go figure! I remember reading a case that spoke about the level of trust involved in business dealings and how Japanese businesses emphasize ‘contact over contract’. It makes sense that these philosophies (respect/trust/reputation) go hand in hand.

Japan’s much hyped about precision and efficiency lives up to expectations. It’s become a thing here for us to stare at our watches/phones when we get on a train just to see it take off exactly on the scheduled minute; it’s fascinating every time! FYI, in 2012, the average delay on the Shinkansen trains was a ridiculous 36 seconds. Yes, 36 seconds.

I organized Chazen South Africa over the winter break and remember the excitement and anticipation in the last few days before the trip started. I’m sure our organizers are experiencing the same feeling. I’m most excited about the Toyota and ANA visits because we get to step out of the boardroom and see the factory/hangar floor.

Some of my favorite parts of the trip so far have been the amazing sushi, the view of Mt Fuji from the Shinkansen and the Onsen (hot spring baths). Along with some exciting company visits, I’ll get to experience those things again :). Looking forward to meeting the group and kicking off the official trip this evening at Hotel Granvia!