Doing Business in Asia (whereas Asia means China, Korea and Japan)

~August 2017

One of the nice opportunities for my university is an exchange between what I heard was called chopstick countries – China’s Beijing, Korea’s Seoul, and Japan’s Tokyo.

What is it for? Probably fostering the relationship between these powerhouses. Hence, in terms of selecting students in my school, I think that they prioritize the Japanese students, then work on the diversity (seriously, diversity is a BIG deal). Either way, what happened?

Btw, this is an extremely late blog entry and I can’t remember the details that well, so I’m no longer separating the rants and facts. Read at your own risk.

The Beijing Nightmare

This happened in summer. In August. If you ask me when to NOT go to any of these countries, August will probably be my answer. It’s hot. It’s humid. And it RAINS a lot.

A group of students from Peking University welcomed us at the airport, which was, well, very welcoming. We got into the bus, and went straight to the Hotel.

We checked in our hotels, and immediately felt the lack of access to the world’s internet. Goodbye email. Goodbye facebook. Goodbye line. I felt like the Chinese government was basically putting me in a box that tells me how I should act and the extent at which I can do things (well, they probably are).

We then proceeded to the university where I the value of the small piece of paper from Guagua (???) School of Management was evident. People were lining up to get into the school, and I’m talking hundreds of meters worth of line. Our bus skipped the line (and in the next couple of days), we sometimes are dropped off outside the school and we have to show that piece of paper to get in).

For the next week, we had classes in the school, company visits and a cancelled visit to the Great Wall of China. Why? Because it. just. won’t. stop. raining. on our free day.

Leaving Beijing, we were a couple of hours early, but with the extremely long and convoluted lines, we made it to the boarding gate 10 minutes after boarding time. Was it the scariest time in my flying life? No (see offloaded). But darn it’s a close second. Good thing the plane was late for half an hour, which we were told when we got into the boarding gate.

Fun in Seoul

Hello, internet! Plenty of notifications the moment we got into Incheon airport.

Same drill as the one in Peking – get into the bus, check in to the hotel, sleep, go to school and go to company trips.

For our free time, the students brought us to Lotte World, where other people went shopping and my group got lost walking looking for seats. We also went to plenty of restaurants, and a kitchen play (which was hilarious but whose title I no longer remember).  We also had an activity where we make Korean alcohol from rice. Unfortunately, we were flying the next day and the concoction is not allowed for flying (coz it’s alcohol and it’ll explode on air. No thanks) so we had to leave it.

Home, sweet home, Tokyo.

Finally! We’re back to Tokyo!!!

Same drill  – except the Tokyo people went their own way the moment we landed at Haneda.

For our free time, there’s no organized activity (yeah, Tokyo didn’t care). But we did tour our own groups! 😀 My group did the Omotesando – Meiji Shrine – Shibuya – Akihabara tour.



Well, this is just an overview, and if I do get the time (and can still remember it), I’ll probably write more.  Or not.

A Cluster of Stars: Subaru

July 5, 2017

The Subaru factor is far from Tokyo. Well, I can’t really complain – it took me more than two hours to get to the factor in Gunma for Subaru, and it’ll take me longer to go to Panasonic. A, the things we do to visit these esteemed companies.

A pretty good perk of studying are company visits – we get to see the inside of companies we otherwise would not be allowed to see. You can’t exactly knock on a factory and ask “can I look at your operations?”

So. Who is Subaru?

They are an plane manufacturing company that decided to use the jet engines to cars.

Yes, you’ve read that right. Planes. Jet Engines. Cars.

That’s basically it. They’re not really out to be the next Toyota. They are happy in their own world. Heck, they keep their production in Japan and USA, not really the ideal places for cheap production. It’s because they are not after cost – they are after quality with exceptional standards on safety.  Yeah, yeah, that’s sales talk right there and I was convinced.

The visit was highly interesting. All I could think of is “robots, robots, ROBOTS!”. To be clear, robots are not necessarily terminator type robots. Robots can simply be one arm that handles the welding of the car door. We saw how cars are made from rolls of steel to that couple of million yen cars. Yes, from rolls of steel. We saw how they stamped, welded and assembled the cars. We saw the conveyor “belts”, and transmission “robots” that facilitated all product transfer.

Japanese companies are at the top of their fields when it comes to manufacturing. I got a peek at it. Wish pictures were allowed. 😦



Branding: Crafting with your Hands

May 2017

One of our classes is branding, with classes mainly involving workshop sessions where we used our hands on crafting activities. The goal is to identify the brand and to visualize it. Now, I still don’t get it, but the activities are pretty interesting (though I hope I never do it again).

One of them is looking at a classmate, and try to make a mask of that person using your understanding of this person. So you talk and ask questions, then draft a mask. Here’s mine!

and here’s the rest of the class’:

Japanese Manners – Rei and Archery

~January 2017

One common comment about the Japanese is that they are rigid. They have so many rules. Want a taste? Here’s are the ones I’ve been told during my stay here (as part of conversation, not because they are correcting me. I’m a foreigner, after all)

  • Where you sit matters. If you are in a high position, you have to stay farthest from the door. If you are in the lower position, then you should be closer to the door (this has Japan samurai ages origin. The one closest to the door gets killed first, right? :p)
  • When doing a toast, the lid of your cup should be lower. (I think the Chinese also has this).
  • Talking about lower – when giving your business card, yours has to be lower too, as a form of humility. If you clearly have a higher position, then you can have the higher one (but come on, how arrogant is that? :p)
  • Continuing on the lower part – when taking the escalator, your head has to be lower. So if going up, your boss should go first. When going down, you should go first. (go on, think about it!)
  • You cannot pour your own drinks, and people around you should not have empty cups (the opposite for Koreans, they said. For Koreans, the cup should be emptied before pouring more alcohol)
  • No loud talking on the train! and no phone calls!
  • Backpacks should not be worn on a crowded train as they take up space. So if you have a backpack, take it off your back and hold it in your hand (or put it down) if the train is crowded

These are just off the top of my head.

For one of our classes, we actually went to Ogasawara-ryu, one of the oldest samurai training clans. Basically, they used to teach the samurai (and other high class people) the right way to do things.

They even have a booklet of proper etiquette! Let me share some items:

  • The right way to bow – your fingers should be close together (not spread out).
  • When receiving a drink or food, put it down first before taking a drink/eating. Meaning if you receive a beer, put it down the table first, then lift it up to drink. Why? Because you are overly eager if you don’t put it down first.


We were taught the right way to bow. There are different bows – we were taught the standing up and kneeling ones. 



A lot of the “correct” ways to do things depend on where the main area is – like this, er, altar (?)
We were also taught how to do the traditional Japanese archery! That one was pretty cool. 
Then we leveled up! We got to try the wooden “horse”. Take note, he is squatting, not sitting. It seems that when they do archery, they don’t sit. They squat. Ouchie.

Yamato Chronogate

~January 2017

There’s this story in one of the manga I’ve read – the guy asked the girl to look around, then close her eyes. He then asked her how many stars she saw. She said none. Once she opened her eyes again, she suddenly became aware that there are huge star designs in one of the stores. The moral? We tend to overlook the things we are not familiar with.

This is the Yamato case for me.

What is Yamato? It’s the impressive delivery system in Japan that delivers goods within the day. Amazon uses them, as most of the Japanese people. Their operations was amazing, and so are their customer service (but then, so do most Japanese’).

The moment I learned who they are, I began to see them EVERYWHERE! THOSE CATS ARE EVERYWHERE!

What impressed me the most was the operations – how they sort the packages and ensure that each are delivered within the required time frame. It was all automatic! Sorry, we were not allowed to take pictures, but darn, that was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen. Basically there is a system of conveyor belts in the floor, all unmanned, that automatically sorts through packages of different sizes and puts them into the right boxes. Every single one. Error rate? Practically zero.

DBIA:China, Japan and South Korea

July 7, 2017

As part of the Doing Business in Asia program, MBA students from Hitotsubashi University (Japan), Seoul National Univeristy (South Korea), and Peking University (China) spend one week on each school during the month of August.

Only ten students are selected from each school, and as of now I don’t know how the other schools selected theirs. Heck, I don’t even know how ours are selected.

Either way, I got in! So what does that mean?

That means I pay my own share – no final amount yet.

That also means I apply for my own visa for South Korea and China. The fun part? Since we get invitation letters from basically their top schools, the visa process is easy. I know others don’t have this problem, but I’m a Filipina. Come on.

That means I get to bond with students from SNU and Peking University.

And that’s all I have to write… for now. :p

Surviving Hitotsubashi ICS

Life in Hitotsubashi International Corporate Strategy comes in two aspects – the administrative and the academic.

Administrative (this post). This means living in Japan, going to school, money matters etc. This can actually be a Surviving Japan post, but I think it’s a tad specific to my experience as a Hitotsubashi student.

Academic (see Thriving in Hitotsubashi ICS). These are the, well, academic aspects. If I have to explain this to you, maybe you should reconsider going to graduate school. :p

Continue reading

Vidya India

February ~20, 2017

One of the visits I probably would never forget is the visit to Bangalore’s Vidya. It’s a chance to see how young women in India struggle, what motivates them and how hard they work.

They struggle with the cultural imposition to women. Their hands are tied. But one thing drives them – their families. Their kids. For example, learning English is a priority because they wanted to talk to their kids in English. Most Indians DO NOT speak English. The people we meet are not at the bottom of the pyramid, and with 1.2billion people, there’s a lot of them. But far more numerous are the ones who struggle on a daily basis.

Vidya is about helping these young women help themselves. And I can’t think of a better way to do it.