While many of the Haas students had a relaxing spring break, 33 of us decided to visit the beautiful Japan last week with 4 hours of sleep everyday. Thanks to the excellent planning by our 5 fearless, super-human Japanese classmates, we had the opportunity to experience Japan's amazing culture, people, and food. Some of the many highlights of our trip include:
Hiroshima Peace Memorial: This was definitely a very humbling experience for all of us. We got to witness firsthand the terrible results of nuclear weapons and wars. We also met with Steven Lloyd Leeper, Chairperson for the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, who encouraged all of us to take part of stopping the development of nuclear weapons.
Itsukushima Shrine: Touring the world heritage shrine with cherry blossoms and wild deers all around us. What more can you ask for?
Kyoto: The best tofu in the world and the beautiful temples are a winning combination.
Sumo Wrestling in Osaka: We witnessed the biggest upset of the Osaka tournament. As the best sumo wrestler in the world, Asashoryu, got pushed out of the sacred ring, the whole stadium went crazy, and people started throwing their seat cushions everywhere. Let me know if you want a video of it.
Toyota Factory Tour: Our visit to the Corolla/IQ factory in Toyota City would have been described by our operations professor as a tour to Disneyland. We all used the terms (flow rate, capacity, bottleneck, kaizen, andon cord, etc.) we learned in the ops class last quarter to describe the Just-In-Time System as it unfolded right in front of our eyes. Our ops professor would have been very, very proud had he heard our conversations with the Toyota tour guide.
Onsen (hot spring) at Atami: We held the first Haas WBC (World Beer Classic) in Japan during dinner. After three rounds of intense and controversial battles, Texas won and Taiwan came in second (I only wish I drank just a little bit faster!). Oh, and did I mention that you can't wear swimsuits in the hot spring?
Ghibli and Sunigami Animation Museums: It was heaven for anime geeks like me.
Tsukiji Fish Market: Wow, just, wow. We left our hotel at 5 am, dodged left and right from the hectic fish cars, and waited for an hour and a half in front of Sushi Dai to enjoy arguably the best sushi in Tokyo (i.e. the world). The sushi took my taste bud through a spiritual journey.
Sony Visit: We enjoyed the showroom, The Square, inside Sony's headquarter. We also had lunch at the Sony cafeteria, the biggest cafeteria in Japan.
Alumni Party in Akasaka: It was a wonderful ending for our trip as we met with alumni (the keynote speaker was a class of '82, the year when I was born!), new admits, and prospective students. I was very touched to see the spirit of the Golden Bear is alive and well in Tokyo.
I just want to give a huge thank you again to our student organizers, our alumni, and our sponsors. With sleepy eyes, an extremely happy stomach, and an enriched mind, I encourage all of you to be a part of the Japan Trek next year. It may just be the best trip of your life!