Visiting Japan: Part 1
I know it’s very, very late for this blog but I just want to share my experience and appreciation during my visit in this country, so humor me.
I worked in a manufacturing company for four years and it’s not everyday that employees were given a chance to visit other countries, but two years ago, June 2015, that was exactly the opportunity that burst at my door. I was selected to join a 4-day business trip to Osaka, Japan (yeah, I know. 4 days ONLY?!). It was so sudden that I did not have time to think if it was because of my performance or just part of my responsibility that I was selected, but whatever the reason was, I was just thankful and excited at that time. It was my first time and my excitement was very catching that my four middle-aged companions joined me in preparation, jumping up and down.
The flight was 2:00 P.M. It has been 7 years since I last boarded an airplane and since I was the youngest in the group, I got the window seat. Shallow as it may sound but I was amazed at the sight of the clouds. I was like a child again, watching through the plane window, marveling at God’s creation. I silently uttered several thanks to Him for His creation and for giving me chance to behold.
ETA was 7:00 P.M. Japan time (our time is one hour earlier), and after having dinner at a Japanese fast food, we bought breakfast for the next morning in a convenient store and headed straight to My Stays Inn Hotel. We had no time to sightsee because of the dark and the time and we needed to prepare for tomorrow’s schedule. I shared the room with my colleague and together we appreciated its coziness. Every corner and every tool has its own function and like stupid kids we tried using all of it. Because the hotel also had free Wi-Fi, I spent an hour posting and scanning pictures before meditating on my devotion and tucking myself to sleep in the comfortable bed.
My first morning in Japan was a refreshing one. I woke up 4:00 A.M. Japan time and the light outside the hotel window in that early hour proved that it really is the land of the rising sun.
(I guess I’ve already gone to very detailed descriptions of what I did on the first night and first morning. Sorry. So I guess this is the point in the article where I need to give helpful points with my experience and not just story-tell.)
First, I think I need to give a little background of the company that I’ve previously worked with. The company is a manufacturing company producing sporting goods (e.g. baseball, hockey, and lacrosse gloves) and business and fashion bags imported to the US and Japan. It is like an outsource factory of the head office “Trion” based in Osaka, Japan. The founder and CEO is a Japanese and though we have American customers too, I learned to appreciate more the Japanese customers (no discrimination or offense meant). Also, I was assigned in the Japan-Line business unit so that explains the Japanese-sided mindset. He-he. One of the reasons of our visit in Japan was to have a deeper understanding of the Japanese culture and way of life. As a Research & Development Department Supervisor back then, I really had no idea what to expect but then I had come to realize that my previous company had both challenge and opportunity in business with Japanese as customers and end-users of the products. Here are some of the interesting, if not helpful, insights from my Japan visit:
High Technology Level. Almost all things are automated: the parking lot, sliding doors, even the toilet flush. I also noticed a common techie thing in almost every corner of the places we went to: vending machine. I found this amusing and I don’t know why. They make all their stuff automated to be more convenient for the user and to save time and space. This made me compare it with the technology level of our country and saw the big gap in which we still need to develop.
Self-Service. It was fun and exciting but also challenging to experience their services in the restaurants, hotels, convenient stores, or even the transportation. Most of the places encourage self-service because their technology is enough for the customers to know their way around. So, if you will plan a trip to Japan, you would want to research a bit or else you’ll get stuck in some hotel trying to figure out what to do with some stuff. He-he. Just kidding.
Passion for Sports. As a sporting goods manufacturing company, baseball is one of the sports that my previous company cater and we had a chance to watch a live baseball game. The teams were Orix Buffaloes vs. Saitama Seibu Lions at the Hotto Motto Kobe Field. It was my first time and I was really excited. I personally appreciated how Japanese love baseball. Even before we went inside, I can hear the cheering of the audience that made me hoot in delight. There were almost a thousand of audience inside the field which consisted of kids, teenagers, adults, and even old ones. Though it rained in the middle of the game, the audience still did not leave. They waited until the rain subsided and continued rooting for their best team. At last, I finally understood how baseball is played, with all its rules. This is the best part of the trip for me because after realizing the pressure and big challenge that we will face when we go back to work, we finally had the privilege to watch how exciting the game is in which the products are used. We were privileged to be able to share their love and excitement for this sport, even for just a short time.
Discipline and Trust. So often has it been said that Japanese are very much disciplined. Some of our Japanese bosses even said that they liked it here more in the Philippines as their impression of us Pinoy’s are happy-go-lucky and down-to-earth, no pressure in following all the rules. Hearing it, I became proud of how our culture affects other citizens, but not until I saw the Japanese culture. I then began to wish that our country can adapt some of their present practices.
- They are very organized and systematic. All the places we went to have systematic processes which all the citizens follow that even the smallest item has its own proper location.
- They value time. They move, walk, and talk in a manner that they mean no time should be wasted. Even the Japanese staff who were with us ensured that we are in time with our schedule.
- They all follow their system and their rules. Their clean environment is proof enough of their discipline. Also, I saw how trust is very important in their work as well as their way of living. They even have this vegetable stall in the street without any salesman. All you have to do to “buy” is pick up the vegetable or fruit that you like and leave the payment in the money container.
- They are very professional in terms of work and business. They are actually very workaholic, working to show their support to their family. Even the old ones still work (as security guard, convenient store cashier, etc.) Even so, I also noticed that they are generally courteous: they make sure that they will not pass by other people without giving a small greeting.
Even for a short period of time that we were there and with all the pressure from work and busy people around, I was privileged and grateful to be able to see and understand the culture and way of living in Japan. Though I am not in the same company now, I will definitely not forget the learnings and experiences that I’ve gained from that trip, especially with my seniors who were with me. With that, gratitude overwhelmed me, and I will always feel that way. (Uh-oh, I guess I’m reminiscing. Better end this article before I cry and the tone becomes all mushy or something…)
It was only after that trip when I’ve realized that discipline is important for a nation to improve and develop its potentials. Japan, before, is not as civilized as it is now, but it has built its own reputation through the years and the citizen’s discipline definitely has a great contribution. Discipline may seem like a trite word especially for millennials like me, but I’ve witnessed it in action, I’ve seen the result, and what better thought would I have in mind? Will it sound gibberish if I say (or write) that this is what our country needs now?
For the travellers out there, I would definitely recommend to include this country in your list. You’ll not only enjoy the trip, but you’ll get home packed with a lot of personal learnings, mainly about discipline in various aspects, that you’d want to adapt. Well, I hope. 🙂
Photos will follow. I am still filtering my album and selecting pictures that are best to go with this article.