Friday, April 11, 2008

Japan IV

Tuesday

Luckily, Tuesday wasn't as hectic changing cities, and we were scheduled to stay in Tokyo for the rest of the trip. We tried the Japanese/American breakfast buffet, since we had vouchers for breakfast every day. It just wasn't as astounding as the Hotel Granvia, but still good. I mean, I really dig miso soup every day.

The day started off with a government economist (who was actually an American expatriate). I'd like to tell you how interesting and fascinating his speech was, or what it was even about, but ... I'm just not in to economics. Weird for a business student, right?? OK, some of his lecture was about rising prices, and where he thought the Japanese economy was going, but that's it. Afterward, everyone raved about how wonderful he was. I'm suspicious no one really understood what he was talking about, but wanted to sound smart themselves.

Then, we walked down the block from the hotel to Pfizer. I can't say I was too enthused about this visit either. Fine, I wasn't real enthused about any of the company visits. I'm a terrible business school student! But, it was actually really interesting. Note: everyone else didn't like this visit; it was too long and boring. They taught us about the Japanese health care system, and that was fascinating. It seems like they have a good handle on the universal healthcare system, although they're recognizing that there's going to be some problems as their population ages, like in the US. What can I say? I was raised with it.

Lunch was at the hotel, and we were given $25 vouchers. $25 for lunch?? We went for shabu shabu, but it was more than $25, and really not any different than I've had in the US. I got a tuna bowl that was fabulous. Seriously, I've had tuna before, and sushi, but this was amazing!! There was some kind of scary jiggly spiny thing in it, and seaweed and rice, so I just ate around the jiggly thing. And honestly, I was probably the bravest eater at lunch. I guess at this point, some people were getting a little homesick.

After lunch, we met with an American who became an entrepreneur in Japan. He started a company called Newport, but I never fully got a handle on what they do. It sounded like wholesaling, but the talk was more about starting a company in Japan. We're used to people getting a business idea and starting up a company here. In fact, it's a pretty respectful career. But in Japan, it's very unusual. Lifetime employment isn't official, but they definitely have a different outlook on employment there. That, and if your company fails - they don't give you too many options to re-enter the workforce. He was unusually guarded about his private life, although nobody pried. I couldn't help but be curious what effect moving to a new country must have had, though.

Dinner was at Gonpachi, and everyone went. Gonpachi was in Kill Bill I (I like that movie a lot), where the bride fights off with Lucy Liu. It was much, much smaller than I expected, and our group took over the whole first floor. I feel really bad for the restaurant, because they obviously didn't know that unlimited drinks are just not a good idea with a big group of business students. There were constant pitchers of beer on the table, and a somehow neverending supply of plum wine. The food was based on a set menu, and I didn't get to try everything because I was too busy socializing. It was kind of hit or miss anyway. My favorites were the grilled tuna and lime ice for dessert. Dessert my favorite? Big surprise there!

We went back to the hotel with the faculty and professors. I'm bummed we didn't stay out later, but the professors were super cool. We got back to the hotel safe and sound, and that was kind of it for my night.

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Zololkis said...
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