My Unfiltered Japan Trip – Getting Lost in Japan 

by | Apr 3, 2024 | Campus News, Humans, Japanese Culture, Off Campus, Rest of the World, Tips, Uncategorized, Western Sydney

(Credit: Angela Tran)

Written by Angela Tran | Edited by Nataša Aster-Stater

The Japan Study Tour was one of the most life-changing and intricate experiences I ever had. The tour provided both an in-depth and analytical understanding of Japanese culture, including how organisations conducted their businesses, how the Japanese people retained their effective and efficient lifestyles and the peaceful nature in which the Japanese approach and resolve challenges.   

As students, we were welcomed with numerous presentations from well-known companies and event organisers, such as BOSH, Toyota, and J.F Oberlin University to name a few: The common denominator in most places we visited – besides the objective of reducing carbon emissions – was the emphasis on human relations and the tender connections fostered by the people with one another.   

One of the most memorable parts when travelling to Japan was understanding Japanese business culture with CIC Tokyo.   

(Credit: Angela Tran)

Learning Experiences:  

A valuable learning experience gained from this discussion was how dissimilar some relationship-building methods were in different countries, compared to each other.   

For Japan, rather than directly offering insights and opinions immediately during business meetings, deliberation and careful thinking are essential before attending these events.   

Specifically, our host highlighted the significance of building trust. 

For countries that are more task-based such as Australia, trust is built through business-related activities propelled by the notion of practicality and consistent work. Whereas relationship-based countries, such as Japan, build trust through sharing meals and quality time.   

Specifically, the more you know, the more you understand and appreciate. As such, we were taught the importance of lasting relations that are built on shared values, friendly encounters and what it means to be genuine to connect.    

 Learning about the importance of depth and authenticity when addressing yourself to another person highlights an opportunity to network and build genuine connections.   

(Credit: Angela Tran)

Travelling and New Environments:  

While travelling from Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagoya and Fukuoka, students learn to adapt to the changing environments and understand each other’s habits quickly.    

Sharing breakfast became a part of our daily Japanese life – relying on each other to commute from one destination to another and ensuring the safety of the group was not a one-man job, making the trip more meaningful and life-changing.   

We started as strangers – now we hold lifelong memories.   

(Credit: Angela Tran)

Eyes Open to New Information:  

 While the study tour facilitated the opportunity for students to appreciate and learn about culture, it is witnessing and participating in Japan’s everyday life that embeds the meaning behind value and respect.   

 During our visit to the Tokyo SkyTree Tower, our tour guide gave us a debrief on how the Japanese manage the capacity and demand of locations with high tourist attractions: Immediately upon entry, the hoard of people was split into 3 lines, each designated for a separate elevator that shot up at a rapid speed to get to the observation deck floor.   

 Fortunately for us, since we bought pre-booked tickets, we were allowed to enter the 3rd line, which provided us faster access to the elevators. Although demand could have exceeded the optimum capacity level and created a high risk of quality service deterioration, the management of the overall lines – in conjunction with having cross-trained employees that can manage these lines – allowed effective and efficient mobility within its operational structure: This level of efficiency is a result of businesses knowing what customers want.   

When it comes to Miyajima Island’s tourism success, it’s due to its deep understanding of customer desires.   

The group was also offered a ferry service that provided picturesque seaside views before encountering the vibrant orange shrine. The ferry was strategically placed at a positive outset, allowing students and tourists to explore the island’s markets and enticing food stalls that engage customers’ senses in all facets possible.   

(Credit: Angela Tran)

Moments that ignited Glee in Japan:

There was a whole collection of joyous moments: 

Seafood was a delicacy at the markets, but a colourful array of sweets and desserts lined the stalls, with skewers and kebabs filling up the air. The island also provided other Japanese delicacies such as candied fruits and pastries, however, it was the wildlife that brought this experience to another level.  

Groups of deer appeared in every corner, with happy families and groups feeding these majestic animals with glee. With such elevated satisfaction – from souvenir shopping to capturing moments near the mountains – it all inspired customer loyalty.   

(Credit: Angela Tran)

Nagoya Castle:

Finally, during our last destination in Nagoya, we tracked around the Nagoya castle tour, where our guide, boasting nearly 40 years of experience, delivered an informative and engaging experience.   

 His extensive knowledge highlighted the strategic placement of castle walls and their historical significance. The guide’s interactive approach, posing questions and sharing insights, kept us entertained and enriched our understanding. This, coupled with the castle’s well-maintained facilities – including cafes, restaurants, and unique services like meeting samurais – elevated our perception of service quality and overall experience.   

 Fuelled by the guide’s blend of reliability, responsiveness, and genuine empathy for his customers, this positive encounter left us with a remarkably favourable assessment of the Nagoya castle’s service standards.  

(Credit: Angela Tran)

Now, reflecting on the Japan Study Tour, profound lessons emerge for future endeavours: The emphasis on human relations, the importance of cross-cultural understanding, and relationship-building through meals, build trust and offer a strategic approach to international interactions.   

The Japanese Study tour was truly an in-exchangeable experience that I would encourage current and future students of Western Sydney to try out for themselves.   

 For more information, please head to Western Student Go Global.

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