Happy in Happis – Days and Nights in Japan

Golden ShrineIt is day 3 of our Japan Chazen Trip, and both section A and B are currently on the Shinkasen train to Tokyo. The past couple of days have been an amazing whirlwind. We have already visited three of the six companies on our list: Omron, Suntory, and Toyota.

Omron is a leading technology manufacturing company in Japan specializing in pharmaceutical products. They train and employ people with disabilities to work in the company, and we were able to see them in action at one of their production facilities. The support and training of their disabled employees are an incredible part of their corporate social responsibility motto of making innovative products while building a stronger community.

Later that afternoon, we went on a tour to Suntory distillery, where they make their award-winning Yamazaki whiskey. We learned about the process of making fine whiskey from the highest quality spring water custom-tailored for the Japanese, and now global, palate. Our group even sat for a tasting of their whiskeys and learned about the different flavors and ways to drink Japanese whiskey.

On the second day, we made a very cool trip to Toyota’s manufacturing plan where we got to see how they make 3 of SUVs and hatchback vehicles. This was an especially cool experience because as first years, we had studied a case on Toyota’s six sigma operations process in our core class, and now we get to see it in action. The efficiency, intricacy, and accuracy of each part of their production process is flawless. It takes around 18 hours to make one vehicle from start to finish, and the plant that we were in makes around 300,000 vehicles a year to supply the Japanese market. We also learned from the company presentation about Toyota’s investment and production in North America. This was personally my favorite company visit so far since we were able to get a hands-on in depth looks at the production capabilities and corporate strategy of one of the most well-known brands in the world.

At night is where the fun begins. We spent the past few evenings eating conveyor belt sushi and izakaya (Japanese tapas), tasting sake, traditional Japanese cuisine, and even live abalone that was still moving in its shell! So far we’ve only had two evenings together, and both of them ended in karaoke. We also received these awesome red robes called a happi with CBS engraved on it, which we have worn probably more often than we should. The two sections also combined to stay at a ryokan (traditional Japanese housing where you sleep on tatami mats) and had fun trying out the spring baths.

It’s been an unforgettable trip so far and there’s more to come!

– Katherine Li F’17

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