As has become a Cambridge MBA tradition, this year some of the students from Japan organised a business trek in which they would host a few students to spend a week travelling around their home country. The goals of this trip are to learn more about the culture, as well as visit some businesses to see how Japanese business is done. This year, eight of us in total attended, 3 Japanese students, and 5 non-Japanese, flew out in late April after completing our Global Consulting Project work. The 14+ hour flight from London to Osaka was a long one, but we were all too excited to care.


We first landed in Kansai international airport and went straight to Osaka, the second largest city in Japan. The train arrived at Umeda station, which is in one of the busiest areas in Osaka. There is a market street right across from the Umeda station and we had our first glimpse of the vibrant district in the heart of Osaka.

During the brief stay in Osaka, we stopped by the Osaka Castle. There are rows of cherry blossom trees in the park around the castle. The cherry blossoms are just past the peak blooming days and formed the perfect background for the castle. Inside the castle, the history of Japan was explained with pictures and artifacts as we made the ascent to the top. The top of the castle offered a panoramic view of the city with high rises in the city centre and the mountains in the distance.

We then headed to the Tsutenkaku tower, which is one of the highest points of Osaka that also has a slide built in, which brings visitors from the observation deck directly down to the base.

Local cuisines are an inseparable part of the cultural experience. We had two of the most well-known cuisines from Osaka. Okonomiyaki was the first meal we had in Umeda, and right under the Tsutenkaku Tower, we had Kushikatsu, which includes a variety of tasty fried food on skewers.

It was too short of a stay to see everything in Osaka, but we made the most of our short stop to take in everything we saw.


After our experience in Osaka, we travelled on to the cultural heart of Japan, Kyoto. Our stay in this ancient city was made even more immersive by our accommodation in a traditional Japanese-style hotel.

Our first stop in Kyoto was a traditional sake brewery, where we witnessed the intricate process of crafting this iconic Japanese rice wine. From the preparation of the ingredients to the fermentation and bottling stages, we gained a newfound appreciation for the artistry and dedication that goes into every sip of sake. The highlight was the opportunity to sample various varieties, each with its unique flavor. The second highlight of the day was having lunch in a traditional Japanese restaurant where we tried local fish and foods.

That afternoon and during the next day, we would visit some of Kyoto’s most iconic landmarks. The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-Ji), the Kiyomizu-dera temple, perched atop a hillside, and Fushimi Inari Taisha, a sacred Shinto shrine known for its thousands of vermilion torii gates.

Overall, Kyoto was an amazing place to visit, but our trip was just getting started.

We boarded the Shinkansen high speed train to Tokyo’s Shinjuku station. We quickly dropped our bags and made our way to meet with one of Japan’s largest real estate developers, Tokyu Corporation. The team at Tokyu explained the company’s growth strategy before taking us on a tour of its new omnichannel shopping mall, which had just opened that day! After saying arigato to our hosts at Tokyu, we spent several hours exploring the streets of Harajuku. We ended the night with a sushi omakase dinner on the 50th floor of a building overlooking the famous Shibuya scramble.

Early the next morning, we headed to our second company visit at Sony’s international headquarters. Yuko Giga, a Cambridge Judge alumnus, (MBA 2009) walked us through Sony’s storied history, and described the company’s innovation plans for the twenty-first century. I think everyone’s favourite part of the visit was playing with aibo, Sony’s AI-powered robotic dog! We rounded out the day at the ancient Buddhist temple of Senso-ji, then headed to Tokyo SkyTree to take in views of the world’s largest city from the world’s tallest tower.

Our final day in Tokyo was a free day to explore the city on our own. As a self-professed shopaholic, I headed straight to the shopping district of Ginza. I continued treating myself, and next went on a culinary adventure to the iconic Tsukiji fish market. With a satisfied appetite, I embarked on the final leg of my journey in Japan – a tranquil retreat to an onsen. Nestled amidst lush greenery in a quiet Shinjuku street, the traditional Japanese hot springs provided the perfect sanctuary to unwind and recharge. It was a fitting end to my Tokyo adventure.

As a conclusion, this was an experience none of us will forget. The only complaint we have is that it wasn’t even longer! The food, views, and company were outstanding to say the least, and learning more about Japanese culture will stay with us our entire lives. The hospitality shown by not only the businesses we visited, but from the locals, made us feel truly at home and we were excited to explore everything the country had to offer.

If you don’t hear back from us soon, we’re just booking our next flight back!