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Beach, Fireworks, and Nightlife!

August 2, 2009

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The Japanese are interesting people. They are not easily pleased but they love to do the same over and over. For example, every city has their own fireworks day, a tradition that is carried out all summer long. It is very popular to go to other cities to see fireworks shows, watching the same thing over and over. But I have to admit, these fireworks are the best that Ive ever seen. We were invited to a party in Yokohama, city which has probably the most beautiful bay in the world. Then at night, the fireworks are launched from a ship out in the water and the colors from the sky and reflected off of the water illuminate the whole shore line.

Talking about the summer, one of my coworkers, Sugimura, has been a professional surfer for over 10 years. I had the honor to hit the beach with him. The tradition of many people in a small space carries even out to the shores. But I have to say, I was still surprised with the amount of surfers in the water. The waves are really crowded. I can’t believe I  used to complain about other surfers being too close in San Diego after seeing this!

I guess every place, even a crowded beach,  has its positive points though. For example in Japan it’s okay to have a drink at the beach, there are no open container laws. However, if you want to surf it’s an unwritten rule that you better not. Water safety is pretty important to surfers here, and as the beach is very rocky, they are pretty careful.

CIMG3391 Video- Click On the Picture to Watch!

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Our group from Intrax has had some other fun nights here in Japan. A couple of nights, all of the interns went to Roppongi. This place is famous for the bars, restaurants, clubs, etc. We went to a Mexican Restaurant which was a pretty unique experience. I would say that the Japanese have a very “unique” concept of the Mexican food as it is not spicy.

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click on the next pic to see a real karaoke

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Work Work Work- Details of a Japanese Internship

July 31, 2009

JMRA is an organization responsible for the quality`s supervision of Marketing Research in Japan. It is an equivalent of the American Marketing Association in the US, and ESOMAR in Europe. I`ve learned how the Japanese industry has developed compared to its international counterparts and it is amazing how a country so small in size is so big in numbers.

A typical work day for me starts by arriving early (which I’ve learned means you’re on time in Japan). I sit down at my place and start gathering data and playing with numbers here and there. These numbers are a big deal for me as they represent the industry. Its been quite an experience listening everyday to marketing research and marketing strategy conversations. I’ve been able to ask so many questions and have learned so much since the start of my internship.

I remember the first day I was here I asked, “so, what is marketing research?”

Today, after these weeks, my boss says that I know something about MR. I believe that I have a pretty firm grasp on what marketing research is and what its industry is about. I have always been busy at work, and I know what it means now when you can’t finish all of your work in one day. There’s always something to do. But it really feels good to go do work that you’re excited about.

Below are some pictures of my office and my commute to work, as well as a video. Hope you enjoy, and keep posted!

Watch my way to work-

So I get on the Train to the Kanda Station which can be accessed from the Ginza Line or the Yamanote Line.

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Time Card

JMRA`s Desk

  1. Office Entrance

    The Stairs to Success

Midterm Review

July 26, 2009

So far, the Intrax Intern Abroad group is around the middle of our internship. Most of the students are used to the life in Tokyo and have started to appreciate the unique places such as the fish market.

The fish market here in Tokyo is the biggest in the world. Here, they sell Tuna how most meat markets sell beef-you can order the part of the Tuna you want and they will cut it for you. Of course every part has a different price just as  like beef. So picture thousands of frozen Tuna fish being carried into the Market. People fighting everywhere  for the freshest and biggest and best cuts.

They also have thousands of different fish and seafood. All the fish and seafood that you can think of is here. It is a far cry from Red Lobster!

I thought I knew something about fish before coming here…

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I thought I knew something about fish before coming here…but those huge white bulges are Tuna! If you are ever in Japan, this is a place to visit for sure.

The group from Intrax also visited the Osaka Castle. This place has a very special significance to Japan’s economy. The Japanese don’t want to admit it, but Osaka is still the economic capital of Japan in an indirect way. This means that currently, all the businesses might be located in Tokyo, but the biggest ones originated in Osaka and therefore owe respect to this castle. We had a guided tour around the castle and as we listened to the story we saw the historical walls and fortification, notorious for being impenetrable. The white house would be surprised with the amount of security that this castle had hundreds of years ago.  As this was the site where the treasury was housed.This bridge like looking thing is in fact a wall that is 23 feet thick.

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The Osaka Castle was built by the most wealthy Japanese family before the Meiji period. It controlled trade between Tokyo, Korea, and the rest of Asia. It was conquered by the Tokugawa Family just before Japan opened its ports to the West.

In General, Osaka is different  from the rest of Japan. People are business oriented here, though you can’t tell by their actions are very opposite than most places considered economic centers. For example, I was surprised to see them barter and haggle prices even in formal stores. Or, for example, in brand stores one can observe lines of old ladies waiting to talk to the manager to get a discout! Smart ladies!!!! IMGP2119

Something that will always stick with me is walking through these magic places like Osaka Castle, where one travels back to the old times when the shogun and the geishas lived in Kyoto.  Then, all of a sudden, one returns to the big city and realizes that all those times are now just in the text books. But the legacy is still very strong, even in modern Tokyo.

Im writing all this in my blog just to say that just as those guys kept their castle and their traditions one needs to keep his own identity wherever he goes. Although there is always room for improvement. So Who are you?

We are the modern kind of what the samurai used to be: A warrior.  Now there is the economic and business wars. However different, I think that the basics of the samurai apply to one’s job. Discipline, Respect, Dedication.

Keep Posted!

 

 

Kyoto and Osaka

July 21, 2009

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Welcome to Kyoto. The Intrax Inter Abroad team had a guide that explained many things about this city. For example how it has evolved. Some amazing things happened here through history. This is a magic town with a heritage that reaches back more than a thousand years. Kyoto was the capital of Japan at that time,  until about 300 years when the capital was moved to Tokyo.

Kyoto definitely has that uniqueness that one looks for in a place like Japan.Places like this are what create the image of Japan for the world.

These are all pictures of the trip. The castle on top is called the “golden pavilion” and it is a symbol for those who start something related with money, for example new employment. Appropriate for our group! The symbol comes from the fact that the castle is made out of gold. The rest of the pictures are from the visit to Komatsu. a large machinery company known worldwide. Their factory is in Osaka. I’m sure everybody has seen one of these huge machines on the side of the road.

We also went to Rohto Seiyaku which are the owners of the brand Oxxi, and then we visited the kansai airport. In Kyoto we also visited Shimadzu seiyaku, the place where a Nobel Price awarded to a Japanese was given last year. There was a lot to take in and it was an overall excellent trip.

Location & Culture

July 21, 2009

Many people would expect Japan to be a place filled with people wearing Kimono, drinking sake, and eating sushi. Even though some of these stereotypes are based in reason, the Kimonos, especially in Tokyo, are quite rare.

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and it is a very busy city. There are people on the street day and night.  Tokyo`s main function is to connect Japan within itself and with other countries. This economic capital is a very modern city with all kinds of activities. It has one of the lowest criminal indexes around the world, if not the lowest. It is amazing how people stay up, walking in the streets late at night, and never really worry about their security.

In another topic, it is quite a small city in area for its entire people. It has become a very condensed place where everything has to be small; small offices, small apartments, small cars, etc. However small, Japanese goods have that quality touch that makes one forget about the size and rather,  to appreciate its quality. For example, when one goes shopping the groceries, the stores are incredibly variable.

 Speaking of shopping, Tokyo has a world renowned fashion capital called Shinjuku. It is one of the oldest fashion districts in the world. Japan has one of the biggest traditions for brand purchasing around the world. One can find any store available in the US and in Europe. It is a great place to go crazy and shop.  My theory, shopping makes people forget how crowded Tokyo is.

Taste of the World

July 8, 2009

I found it interesting that Japanese peole have the longest life expectancy in the world. So far I think this is due to their food. Tokyo is a very unique place when it comes to food. A regular Japanese morning starts with a miso soup and a rice bowl. Miso is a salt tasting bean which is used as a base for a many differnt foods.  

miso soup Miso soup normally has tofu, alge, and onion. Sometimes it comes with fish, mushrooms, etc.

Their traditional foods are tied very closely to the ocean. Almost everbody eats seafood daily. But although Japan is distinctly a part of Asia,  they also have adopted Western (European) habits. For example, instead of the miso soup and rice, many modern Japanese are eating a slice of bread with some butter just as we do. In fact, the bread section looks pretty American at the market:bread

 

Also, Tokyo has adopted the habit of drinking coffee. However, their taste for coffee is a little different than ours. Most of the time it is served black. I have to say, that for the first time I’ve missed my grandma’s coffee with a lot of milk!

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Some of the most common coffee shops are Doutor, Veloce, and Starbucks.

As I explained in the first blog, the level of recycling and attention to detail in coffee shops is amazing, and they don’t waste anything. Japanese people really love coffee breaks. In my office we have one every 5 minutes, not that I’m complaining!

        When it comes to lunch, the staff at my office loves ramen. This is the original version of a noodle cup such as maruchan, etc. It is a big bowl filled with pasta and flavored by a broth-based, spiced soup. On top it is covered with vegetables and meat, or one can create a new combination, although it is very common that a restaurant becomes famous for one flavor in particular.CIMG0013 

            I have to say that lunch time is my favorite time at the office. My coworkers always go out together for lunch and they know what good food tastes like. I will miss them and our lunch times when I leave Tokyo.

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 This is moyashi(bean sprout) flavor ramen. My favorite!

Another very typical lunch is obento. This literally mean “lunch box,” and it looks like this:

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Breakfast and lunch are good but Dinner time in Japan is the real deal.

 

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Office Odyssey in Japan

July 7, 2009
Crowded Morning Train in Tokyo

Crowded Morning Train in Tokyo

               This week,  I started work at my internship with the Japanese Marketing Research Association. I can’t explain how my life changed after the first day in my office. It was one of those days that made me realize that there are many  more opportunities in life yet to come. After taking all of those Japanese classes and  sitting in the classroom for years, I was finally in the real world using my business and language skills. Even though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,  I was ready to do something and this is it. 

             Though I love my work, I have to tell you that it is quite an odyssey getting to the office. I have to get from Keisei-Koiwa onto Keisei-sen, then from here, change trains in Nippori onto Yamanote-sen the busiest line in all Tokyo. From there, I go towards Tokyo/Shinagawa station for about 5 stations all the way to Kanda. What a trip!

           Starting in the office was very interesting for me and the other employees, as internships aren’t very common in Japan, let alone an international iternship.  They didn’t know what to expect from me and I didn’t know what to expect from them. It was then that I just decided to get my self busy and jump in. I saw a couple of activities that I could give them a hand with and they smiled at me. After that, they considered me as part of their team. I am now included in all the office activities, including meetings, parties, tasks, etc.

                 In the first week at my office, my coworkers took me out to a Japanese restaurant and showed me the old traditions of Japan. We had a couple of drinks in one of the best restaurants in Kanda. It is very important in Japanese business culture to socialize with each other. I have to say that I am very excited about the industry and the people that I’m meeting. Best of all, to have them invite me out for a drink!

            Something that was very challenging for me at first was answering the phone. There is a girl in my office that lived in New York for a couple of years and she likes to challenge me. So it was her idea that I should answer the phone. Though it may seem simple, answering the phone is a pretty difficult task at first, as you have to understand someone speak without the context of body or physical expressions. The first time I did it the client in the other end of the line got mad at me and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to find the nearest emergency exit and just run away. However, by the third call I felt confident about it and today I can say that I am very close to mastering the art of answering the phone for my Japanese company.

            The company I am interning with  is an association that controls the conduct of all the marketing research companies in Japan. For this they have seminars and other kinds of trainings. I felt really challenged when my boss asked me to get into one of the seminars and be part of it. All I had in my mind was to be positive, but I was very nervous. I guess I “just did it.”In the power point presentation a big title saying TOKEIGAKU and I was surprised to find out that I was in a STATISTICS training. It reminded me of facing off in front of all my Japanese and math professors from my many years of school, all at the same time.

Me at the Office

Me at the Office

 

     That’s it for my office adventures this week. Keep posted forthe next blog and thanks for reading!