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Shari Kendrick - Business and Culture in Japan

Published: Monday, 27 Jun 2016
Author: Cheryl Ann Benner
Department: Office for Education Abroad

Name: Shari Kendrick

Status: Senior

Major: Human Resource Management

Hometown: Southfield, MI

Program: Business & Culture in Japan


Before arriving in Japan, I knew that the culture would be the polar opposite of what I am accustomed to at home. Even in contrast with China, I think the Chinese are more aligned with the U.S. than Japan, according to my experience last year in China. The most important thing for me in the beginning of the program was respect. I knew that the Japanese are very respectful, so I wanted to make sure I was very aware of how to behave. When Dr. Singer, mentioned to us about clothing, and how conservative the Japanese are, I made sure not to pack any shorts because I did not want to offend anyone. When I arrived and progressed through the program, the vibe that I got was not focused on showing skin, but standing out seems to be somewhat frowned upon. People definitely expressed themselves with different hairstyles, but majority of the clothing seemed the same, which was kind of dressy. 


Quality was mentioned there many times. Japanese automotive companies are known for having the best quality. Toyota has been #1 automotive company for many years. I have actually decided as well to buy the new Honda Civic has my first car purchase, due to the high quality. I did not expect this idea of quality to carry over into basically every aspect of Japanese culture. From Shinshindo baked goods to Fujitec elevators and escalators to KRT's inspections, quality is definitely engraved in the culture, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. 


A lot of other things that I heard about from the company visits, including the aging population and collectivism, I was already aware of from previous class meetings. The one thing that surprised me was the amount of contradictions that were present. I could not understand how the most high tech country in the world could be so low tech in areas such as monetary payment and the Tsukiji Market. Additionally, Dr. Singer talked to us about how cleanly the Japanese were, but there was no soap several times during our cultural visits. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Japan. I confident that I have a great grasp on the culture and business practices now. I hope to put this tactic knowledge to use in my career.