Olin in Japan: What makes a place unique?

  • April 20, 2018
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

Jarrad Solomon, MBA 2019, wrote this blog post on behalf of the Center for Experiential Learning.

Jarrad in traditional Japanese attire during his visit with the CEL GMS trip in 2018.
Jarrad in traditional Japanese attire during his visit with the CEL GMS trip in 2018.

What makes a place unique? Well, experiencing Japan for the first time would perhaps make for a difficult answer; as soon as my classmates and I stepped off the plane in Tokyo, we were fully immersed in the sometimes overwhelming and chaotic sights and sounds: from the food and fashion to the culture and customs.

We began our GMS trip with cultural activities such as tea making, indulging in delectable foods in traditional settings like izakayas and shabu-shabus, and meeting with business leaders at leading global companies, including Bank of Japan and Geikkekan (sake anyone?).

We continued our journey with a stop in Nagoya, where we saw our core operations course come to life at Toyota’s first manufacturing plant. From there, we experienced more of the rich history and traditions that we learned about in the pre-trip course.

On the way to Kyoto, we stayed at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) with matted-rooms and hot springs and wore yukatas to dinner while singing karaoke. Once there, we continued to be immersed in the culture, wandering through the hilly, narrow streets lined with shops and food stalls on the way up to the famous temple Kiyomizu and shrine Fushimi Inari-taisha.

So back to the question at hand: What makes a place unique?

The entire gang on the 2018 Global Management Studies trip to Japan in 2018.
The entire gang on the 2018 Global Management Studies trip to Japan in 2018.

Upon our return, classmates back at Olin were eager to hear what we enjoyed most about the trip. A common refrain heard was omotenashi, the Japanese term for its welcoming hospitality. We experienced this hospitality first hand as soon as we stepped off the subway in search for our hotel.

Merely asking a local couple if they could point us in the right direction turned into them escorting us directly to our hotel doorstep. Halfway around the world, my classmates and I realized the answer to the question being posed: It’s the people.

The similarities between omotenashi and the culture at Olin Business School are evident through the wonderful people; they are what make Olin truly unique.

We all have lived and worked in different locales around the globe. However, immersing oneself in a culture with fellow classmates makes for a truly unforgettable experience, one that can’t be replicated without leaving the confines of the classroom.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes.” As our first year of the MBA program is winding down, I’m confident that the personal experiences and growth developed at Olin Business School will allow us to view our upcoming summer internships and beyond with a new perspective.

Pictured above: Jarrad Solomon during the CEL’s Global Management Studies trip to Japan in 2018.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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