Ever imagined fitting 3000 or so people on a street crossing? At Shibuya crossing (pictured below) this probably happens every 3 minutes with surprising ease making it the world’s busiest crossing. We landed in Tokyo some 9 days ago with the idea that it is a city where people are always on the go, love to shop, eat sushi and drink sake before they go home.
But our work here has taught us that this city is much more than that and given us a glimpse of the true spirit of Japanese culture. In Tokyo, people at first may appear aloof – not willing to talk to each other on subways or even make eye contact on streets but a closer look reveals that Japanese people will go to any extent to “silently” help others. In one such experience, Japanese people showed us the Haas defining principle of “Beyond Yourself” when the same people who never talked to each other on the subways came forward to help a lady needing urgent help for her child. In the end, all was fine but the lady probably would never know who all silently helped her and later selflessly moved on to catch their next train.
Before we landed, we were told that Japan would be hot and humid during our visit but apparently all of us had forgotten what hot and humid can do to our bodies with their combined forces. Having acclimatized ourselves very quickly, we immediately got down to business and have interviewed numerous business leaders across different industries to test our hypotheses. These leaders represented a few Haas alums and business executives in companies such as Kyocera, NTT Docomo, DFJ-JAIC, Bank of America Japan, Salesforce, Hitachi Solutions Ltd, Evernote, BellSystems 24, and JGC Corporation. We felt that the Haas network was extremely helpful by getting us interviews at their own companies and graciously opening their own network to help us especially Prof. Toshiro Kita (visiting Haas from Doshisha Business School). Pictured below is one such alum (Morikuni Hasegawa MBA 2003, 2nd from left) who helped us get a very crucial interview at Hitachi Solutions Ltd.
Another highlight of our visit has been a weekend trip to Kyoto where in addition to conducting interviews at Doshisho University we attended one of the biggest festivals of Japan, Gion Matsuri. Originating some 1100 years ago people lit up Yamaboko floats across downtown. Kyoto also has some of the most beautiful temples in Japan and we would strongly recommend making a visit to at least the Ryoanji Temple (pictured below), Fushimi Inari Shrine (with beautiful red pillars), Kinkakuji Temple, and Kiyomizu Temple on your next trip to Japan. Back in Tokyo, we have explored various areas of the city including Tsukiji fish market, Ginza, Roppongi, Shinjuku and Shibuya and now started advising other tourists on which subway train to catch. The city has impressed some of us so much that when in a good mood we end up claiming that we should have taken birth in Tokyo.
For the remaining part of our trip we plan to assimilate all the information we have gathered from our meetings and PFPS influence of using post-it notes is beginning to show up in our hotel room. Of course, there is always some amazing ramen place open at 2am for a late night food run.