Goodbye Japan!

So, we’re back in New York and I’m already missing some of the joys of Tokyo. The peacefully quiet precise trains, the amazing sushi and those toilet seats!

During our last two days in Tokyo we went out on our own and took advantage of the free time to explore most of the shopping districts of the city and a few sites that we had missed. That Saturday evening we met for our final dinner, a traditional Japanese meal on a karaoke boat around Tokyo Bay. It was amazing fun!

On that we’re back at school, the constant ‘how was your spring break?’ questioning has made me reflect on Japan. If I had to sum up Japan in one sentence I would say that it is a country that has found a perfect balance between hi-tech advancement and a strongly rooted culture. This has probably given rise to the famous Galapagos Syndrome: the situation describing Japan’s development of highly specialized technology that is not successful anywhere else in the world. One of the recurring themes from our company meetings was Japan’s struggle to go global and become ‘World no. 1’. Language and culture seem to be a big barrier to this aspiration. In my view though, Japanese culture seems to be the key driver behind successful Japanese global brands like Toyota.

It will be interesting to see how Japan overcomes the challenges of an ageing population, high debt burden and unique culture, over our lifetimes. Hopefully we’ll see more from the country that brought us Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Toyota, Nissan and Honda!

Finally, I’d like to thank our fearless leaders for organizing such an amazing trip and for making sure we don’t break the many cultural rules during stay in Japan. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about one of the world’s quiet superpowers. Arigato!

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