Let’s! Tokyo A Look at Western Expatriate Success and Post-Arrival Trainings in Tokyo

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Paul Ventura


It was August of 1988 was when I first stepped off my Korean Air flight to Tokyo and began my relationship with Japan. I lived with five Japanese families over the course of that year (1988-1989), attended a Japanese high school as a Rotary International Youth Exchange scholarship recipient, and did a lot of personal growing. I learned Japanese as a natural conclusion to the total immersion of the program. This I furthered when I returned to Japan in 1990. Between 1990-1991 I studied Japanese intensively in order to pass the Japanese public university entrance examinations. I passed the examinations – but due to financial constraints, ended up returning to Hawaii to complete university.

In 1998 I returned to Japan, and in 1999 I started to work at Phoenix Associates (the largest corporate training company in Tokyo). At Phoenix Associates, I was presented with a good opportunity to develop my skills in simultaneously working with and relating to westerners and Japanese. One part of my job was to train Japanese nationals in Western business practices and another part was to develop a manual for company employees new to Tokyo. The manual was to cover basics such as how to get a visa, where to find housing, how to apply for a cellular telephone. My supervisor did not think that anything else was really necessary beyond those basics. However, I sincerely believed that a manual should assist people in more than just learning where to buy the bread – it should try and show them how it makes sense to Japanese people to butter that bread, why the Japanese people might treat you differently if you butter that bread in a way foreign to their own, what the Japanese call the butter for their bread, and how they arrived at buttering their bread with that substance.

I thought it would be a simple matter to write up the how’s and why’s, what’s and where’s of buttering Japanese bread. That it was not gave rise to the thought of trainings that occur after foreigners have arrived in Tokyo.


International and Intercultural Communication

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