Week 2

This past week has left me feeling more settled into living and working in Tokyo, but has still involved a rapid fire of new experiences. At the beginning of last week at work, we learned and talked about the Marketing, IT, and CSR departments in the last few free discussions. The free discussions let us not only meet new people and get a broad view of how the business works, but also see some of the interesting comparisons and contrasts between Toyo Suisan in Japan and Maruchan Inc. in America. I’ve spent most of the rest of the time during the workdays conducting and transcribing interviews and creating surveys. The company let Michael and I each decide what kind of marketing project we wanted to pursue, so I’ve gotten to focus on researching people’s habits and perceptions related to food and health, meat, and vegetarianism. So far things have gone pretty well – I feel lucky to get to talk with people about such a passion-inspiring subject as food!

 

This week has fortunately involved many opportunities to experience things unique to Japan. On Thursday, Ms. N, Michael, and I woke up around 4am to go witness up-close the tuna auction in Toyosu Fish Market, one of the largest and most famous fish markets in the world. The scale of the operations there are truly awe-inspiring. I’m still processing the fact that I got the chance to poke a tuna in a place where sushi restaurants across the globe get their ingredients and millions of dollars pass through each day! Outside of work, I also had some incredible Tokyo experiences with friends both new and old, also centering around food. Some of the highlights included eating at a Kawaii Monster Cafe designed by an eccentric idol named Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, feeling very outclassed but still having fun at a posh butler cafe, and hanging out at an izakaya for the first time.

 

At the same time as all these only-in-Japan experiences, this week has also shown me that a lot of things are familiar both here and at home. Whether you’re in Japan or America, people like going out to eat and drink, Disney, shopping, sports, gambling, nature, chocolate, and so on. Some people behave rudely and do things like bump into you without apologizing or throw up in public after getting wasted, but most are nice and more than willing to help you out if you need it. Friendly strangers have helped me find the way to the right grocery aisle or train station platform more than a few times in the past few weeks! People everywhere have backgrounds, personalities, and interests of infinite kinds. Of course there are some differences between here and the U.S. that have taken getting used to, but overall the culture shock hasn’t felt extreme since there’s still so much overlap. I’m looking forward to heading to work in Tatebayashi, a more rural area north of Tokyo, in a couple of weeks. Since most of my international travel experiences have stayed within urban areas, I want to spend time in a more isolated area to see what things stay the same and what surprises might be in store.

 

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The Toyosu fish auction – since people from the company’s Seafood Department brought us, we actually got a special chance to go inside the auction hall, which is normally off-limits to visitors!

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Inside the Kawaii Monster Cafe, which looks like exactly what it sounds like!!!

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The company has a rooftop garden club!!! They’ve welcomed Michael and I to join every weekday at lunch!

 

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