CJBS Japan Trek could not have been better. It was a unique experience for students to learn about Japanese culture and its business opportunities. We spent three days in Kyoto and four days in Tokyo. Even though one week is not enough to experience all that Japan has to offer, it was enough to have a sense of this amazing country. Japanese people are very kind and welcoming, so this made the trip even more enjoyable and special. Our wonderful hosts embraced the omotenashi culture, wholeheartedly looking after us as their guests.

On our first night, we had a fantastic welcome dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant. It was a great opportunity to get to know everyone on the trek and share our expectations. We all had many questions to our hosts about Japanese culture, and they patiently answered each of them.

In Kyoto, we visited the beautiful temples and shrines, and the local market, where we tried many different foods (like original matcha ice cream) and bought some local souvenirs. We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit Nara and be hosted by a local CJBS alumni who had so much knowledge to share. Our last meal in Kyoto blew everyone’s mind (take note of this valuable tip, the restaurant is called Iso Stand!).

After a great lunchbox meal on the train, we arrived in Tokyo. We had a free day to enjoy all that this big, enthusiastic city has to offer. On an evening cruise we sang traditional karaoke while enjoying some perks that Japan has to offer (like delicious plum wine and sake!). Next day we had our unforgettable company visits.

Softbank was the first one. The building is modern and beautiful. The company’s CFO Yoshimitsu Goto shared valuable information with us about the company’s vision and framework. It was an amazing introduction to a traditional Japanese company, and we learned a lot about its values.

After Softbank, we headed to Shiseido’s. We were kindly asked to wear flip flops during the presentation, which already showed a cultural contrast from that morning. Our hosts talked about the challenge that the firm faces to preserve its Japanese heritage while still growing globally, and how they value and train employees and the opportunities for MBA’s.

Our last visit was at Rakuten. We were impressed with how globally expansive the company is. Our tour around the restaurants, gym and meeting rooms was a big highlight. Visiting company offices is a great way to learn more about a company culture and its values.

On our last day the group split for two visits: some of us visited the exhibition Team Lab Borderless (which is a must!) while others went on a special tea ceremony.  There is no better way to experience Japanese culture and learn so much about this unique country. Those of us who attended the trek could not be more grateful to all our hosts and their amazing hospitality.