Chazen Japan: Meet Our Fearless Leaders

It’s T-one week until Chazen Japan 2016 will begin in Kyoto, and after our kick-off session this week, when we reviewed our itinerary over sushi and Sapporo, the excitement is mounting. During the trip we’ll make our way from Kyoto to Tokyo, visiting companies including Screen, Toyota, Cyberdyne, ANA, and Rakuten. We’ll also visit the Taizo-in zen temple, participate in a traditional Tea Ceremony, and meet with a politician, Minorikawa.

Before we depart, I thought it would be a great time to learn more about the team of students organizing the trip, who’ve been working for months to put together our itinerary. I asked the four trip organizers to share a bit about what they’re most looking forward to about the trip.


Hometown: Beijing, China

Favorite destination on the Chazen Japan itinerary: Kyoto

Favorite destination not on the Chazen Japan itinerary (anywhere else in the world): Heiligenblut

Favorite Japanese food/drink: Sashimi

What you’re most excited for about the trip: Food!!


Name/year: Rebecca Xu (2017)

Hometown: Hangzhou, China

Favorite destination on the Chazen Japan itinerary: Kyoto

Favorite destination not on the Chazen Japan itinerary (anywhere else in the world):  Turkey

Favorite Japanese food/drink: Japanese soft ice cream and matcha

What you’re most excited for about the trip: Giving everyone a “wow” experience in Japan and Asia!


IMG_0602 (1)

Name/year: Joji Takamoto (2017)

Hometown: Kyoto, Japan

Favorite destination on the Chazen Japan itinerary: Taizo-in

Favorite destination not on the Chazen Japan itinerary (anywhere else in the world):  Belgium – I traveled there often for business

Favorite Japanese food/drink: Kiaseki and sho-chu

What you’re most excited for about the trip: Introducing my home country to everyone!



Name/year: Ryan You (2017)

Hometown: Wuhan, China

Favorite destination on the Chazen Japan itinerary: Tokyo

Favorite destination not on the Chazen Japan itinerary (anywhere else in the world): Africa

Favorite Japanese food/drink: Sushi, Sake/Sake Cocktail

What you’re most excited for about the trip: opportunity to bring crazy fun to the people I like and enjoy to hang out with

-Zoe Fox ’17

Getting Ready for Chazen Israel

Spring break is finally here!  I’m starting my first blog as official “social media guru” from a Turkish Airlines flight after spending a day and a half in Istanbul with two friends from my cluster, and am looking forward to meeting up with the Chazen Israel group in Tel Aviv.

After a busy spring semester so far, there is a lot to process.  As everyone at Columbia Business School knows at this point, we said farewell to a beloved classmate, DeShaun Maria Harris ‘14, last week after she passed away unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm.  This loss is a profound lesson for many of us to “live life to the fullest” that we would have preferred to be reminded of in a different way.  DeShaun was on my learning team, so I feel particularly privileged to have gotten to know her well and learn a significant amount from her in a short period of time.  Just a week earlier, we had caught up at length during happy hour, sharing our hopes and excitements for our campus involvements and summer internships.  As I’ve been going through the various stages of grief, it still hasn’t fully sunk in that she’s gone – I can just picture her face, her smile, the sound of her voice so vividly (and a wonderful trip that we took to New Orleans as a cluster, below) – but I’m just grateful to have had that time with her.


DeShaun was also a blogger for the Chazen India trip in January, and she shared some beautiful stories and pictures about her experience HERE.  She certainly sets the bar high for me.

Anyway, the trip organizers, Guy Soreq and Tomer Goldberg, have put together a tremendous itinerary for the group, and here is some of what we have to look forward to in Israel:

  • Meeting the President of Israel, Shimon Peres
  • Meeting with Stanley Fisher, the Governor of Bank of Israel
  • Visiting several companies, including Teva, Pitango, Noble Energy, and Solar Edge
  • Socializing with recently admitted students and alumni
  • Visit to Hagolan Vineyards
  • Hiking in the Golan Heights
  • Siteseeing in Jerusalem, around the Dead Sea, and in the West Bank

More to come soon!

Krista Sande-Kerback ’14

Follow me on Twitter: @kristasande

Feta, Olive Oil, and Sun

I’m here a day ahead of most of my travel companions, but that hasn’t kept me from taking in City Center. The neighborhood is charming and residential, the streets lined with leafless tree stumps that I cannot for the life of me identify, cafes are sprinkled throughout, and the Hilton is among only a few towering hotels overlooking the Acropolis.

Eric Deichmann ’14 and I headed to a cozy neighborhood trattoria to sample the local flavors. Topping off my fabulously cliche Greek salad was a generous portion of feta cheese. Now, I live in Astoria and have tried dozens of feta cheeses, but none were ever as soft and creamy as this one. It quite literally melted in my mouth. As we finished off our house red, the waiter brought over a shot of mastic, a Greek liqueur native to the island of Chios, and compliments of the house. He then, observing the decadence through my expression, came over and said, “This is all we have. Feta cheese, olive oil, and sun.”

Oh if that were only true, I’d have a gluttonous nine days ahead of me. Instead, tomorrow begins the exploration of the land that is the birthplace of modern civilization, one with a history of rich prosperity but that is now rocked by fiscal calamity that threatens social stability. How have firms held up? How does the new Finance Minister, Yiannis Stournaras, plan to get the country’s debt under control with persistently high unemployment and tax evasion? And what is the sentiment among the people? These are all questions we will answer over the course of the next several days. All the while, of course, indulging in the feta cheese, olive oil, and sun.

Dyanna Salcedo, ’14
Follow my travels on Twitter! @DyannaSauce