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Japan travel updates

Travels in Japan
As part of the International Public Relations class, a group of students and faculty are traveling to Tokyo and other nearby areas of Japan over spring break. Several students will blog about their experiences here. Click here for the travel experiences.

Leaving for Indiana

Anne Kibbler | March 14, 2008
8:30 p.m. Friday, Indiana time / 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Tokyo time:

The Tokyo group has checked in at Narita International Airport and cleared security before heading to the gate. The flight leaves in about 75 minutes and is expected to arrive in Chicago around 8:10 a.m. Saturday. The group left the hotel early Saturday morning and took the Narita Express to the airport.

Students are expected to arrive in Indianapolis around 1:15. A bus will take the group from the airport to Bloomington.

Professor Jim Bright wrote before leaving the hotel Saturday morning:

"During the past two days we visited:
  • Bloomberg¹s futuristic newsroom where Senior Editor Bradley Martin gave us an in-depth look at what¹s happening in North Korea
  • The U.S. Embassy where Ambassador Tom Schieffer (brother of CBS News Anchor Bob Schieffer) talked about the office and his career. Meanwhile, Press Attaché David Marks (an IU graduate), joined by Newsweek Bureau Chief Christian Caryl, shared his experiences in dealing with the media.
  • The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan where Sophie Hardach of Reuters gave us a tour and introduced us to several Tokyo-based western journalists
  • Gavin Anderson (one of the world¹s largest PR agencies) where President and CEO Deborah Hayden and her team discussed the challenges and opportunities of working in PR overseas
  • A karaoke box where we discovered some unbelievable singing ability among our International PR students!"

A visit with the Ambassador

Anne Kibbler | March 13, 2008
Courtesy photo
The International Public Relations class with Tom Schieffer, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. The students also visited Bloomberg-Tokyo, Newsweek Tokyo Bureau Chief Christian Caryl and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan Thursday.
Students visited the United States Embassy on Thursday afternoon and met with the U.S. ambassador to Japan, J. Thomas Schieffer. Schieffer has served as ambassador since April 2005. He spoke to the students about his job and then took questions.

The meeting was set up by Indiana University alum David M. Marks, press attaché, U.S. Embassy. Marks, who studied history at IU, told the students he also took a journalism course with Professor Owen Johnson.

In the morning, the students visited Bloomberg and met with reporter Bradley Martin, a North Korea expert and author of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty.

Martin has covered Asia for many years, working for Newsweek, the Asian Wall Street Journal and other outlets.

The final event of the day was a visit to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

Into the countryside

Anne Kibbler | March 12, 2008
The mountains and rural areas of Japan provide a remarkable contrast to the neon lights and skyscrapers in Tokyo. On Wednesday, students visited Nikko National Park, a World Heritage Site about two hours north of Tokyo.

The group left Tokyo at 9 a.m. on an express train to Nikko, arriving at 11. Nikko is one of 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. 

The group walked through the park area. Nikko is the site of several important temples and shrines. The surrounding area is filled with mountains, waterfalls and monkeys. A relief carving over a door at Tosho-gu Shrine features the Three Wise Monkeys, known as Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru – or, the famous representation of the idea, as known in English, to “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”

Communications and Cars

Anne Kibbler | March 11, 2008
Photo by Marsha Dawes
Professors Radhika Parameswaran (left) and Jim Bright (right) pose with the the group in Yokohama’s China Town.
Tuesday’s main event was a visit to the world headquarters of Nissan in Ginza and a production plant in Oppama.

In the morning, the group met with Simon Sproule, the corporate vice president of global communications and investor relations. Mr. Sproule knew Professor Jim Bright from their work in automotive communications.

He talked about Nissan’s public relations work and cultural differences in communications, especially in Japan and China. Students saw a PowerPoint show about Nissan’s global communications structure within the company.

The group took a local train for about an hour to the Oppama plant. Nissan’s Yoshie Yamasaki, executive assistant, global communications, served as the escort. The company provided lunch for the group.

The group took a company bus to the nearby Oppama Wharf to see where Nissan products are shipped abroad and to Japanese cities. Then they visited the factories, including a walking tour of the automobile production, with robotic welding of panels and an assembly line for interior parts and the final inspection. The new cars included both Nissan and Infiniti models.

Photo by Ashley Thursby
The Nissan assembly line.
After the day at Nissan, some of the students stopped at Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city (Osaka is third). Yokohama is a short train ride from Tokyo and includes a major port and one of the world’s largest Chinatowns. The students ate dinner in Chinatown before returning to the hotel for the evening.

Visit to Asahi Shimbun and Tsukiji

Anne Kibbler | March 10, 2008
Photo by Ashley Thursby
Students visited Asahi Shimbun, one of the world’s largest newspapers.
The students ate dinner Monday in Shinjuku with one of the leading public relations practitioners in Japan.

Shuri Fukunaga, the managing director and Japan market leader for Burson-Marsteller Tokyo, talked with students for two hours about her public relations work in Japan. She previously worked as general manager of Nissan’s global communications.

Shinjuku is one of the most crowded areas of Japan and includes perhaps the busiest train station in the world, with hundreds of thousands of passengers traveling each day. Trains during rush hour are filled to capacity by designated “pushers” who are employed to pack people into each car. The area is filled with skyscrapers and Tokyo’s government offices.

In the afternoon, the group toured Asahi Shimbun, the second largest circulation newspaper in the world. The students observed Asahi’s printing press, which was making the afternoon press run. Nearly four million copies are printed throughout the nation in the afternoon. The paper has a circulation of eight million in the morning – or larger than the combined daily circulation of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Photo by Ashley Thursby
Shinjuku is a commercial district that is home to one of the busiest train stations in the world.
Asahi prints an English edition in combination with the International Herald-Tribune.

In the morning, the students were given a tour of Tsukiji fish market, the largest market of its kind in the world. They had a sushi luncheon in the shops next to the market.

Sunday in Asakusa and Odaiba

Anne Kibbler | March 9, 2008
Today’s schedule was developed to allow the students an opportunity to recover from the travel and to see special sites in Tokyo. The group met at 11 to travel by subway to the Asakusa area, one of the main tourist attractions in the city.

The Asakusa area includes Tokyo’s oldest temple, built originally in 645, and a Shinto shrine built in the 1600s. The temple has a 10-foot red lantern at its main gate and is seen in a famous woodblock print by Hiroshige from his series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (Edo was the original name for Tokyo).

Nearby is an old shopping area, with about 100 outdoor stalls, which is a prime spot for Japanese souvenirs.

The students had nice weather, sunny and about 60 degrees, for an afternoon boat ride on the Sumida River. The boat from Asakusa travels under 13 bridges before stopping near the Rainbow Bridge. From there the group took a monorail across the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba, a modern development at Tokyo Bay.

In Odaiba, the students saw exhibits at Fuji TV headquarters. After dinner in Odaiba, they returned to the hotel around 9:30 p.m. With the change in the United States to daylight saving time, Tokyo is now 13 hours ahead of Bloomington.

Monday: In the morning, students will tour Tsukiji fish market, the largest market of its kind in the world. In the afternoon, they will begin their media studies component of the course with a visit to Asahi Shimbun, the second largest newspaper in the world with a morning circulation throughout Japan of about 8 million and an afternoon circulation of about 3.7 million. In the evening, they will be joined at dinner in the Shinjuku area by Shuri Fukunaga of Burson-Marsteller.

Arriving in Japan

Anne Kibbler | March 8, 2008
The ANA flight arrived in Tokyo about 20 to 30 minutes early, and the students cleared immigration and customs. They took the Narita Express, the train to and from the airport, for about one hour into the city, arriving at Tokyo Station.

The group is staying at the Hotel Metropolitan Marunouchi, a new hotel next to Tokyo Station.

Hotel Metropolitan Marunouchi:

Students were able to rest before their dinner reservation at 7:30. Prior to dinner, they looked around the train station at nearby restaurants and shops. The hotel and train station are near Ginza, the famous shopping district, and the Imperial Palace.

Train station and area:

The students walked to dinner, which was held at a restaurant near the station. The Yabukyu Restaurant is more than 100 years old and has a specialty in soba, which often refers to a style of thin buckwheat noodles. Soba also means buckwheat in Japanese, so the restaurant offered special dishes including soba as a main ingredient.

They dined in a private room with four tables and were served a multi-course traditional Japanese meal.

Students and faculty returned to the hotel around 10 p.m. (8 a.m. Bloomington time), or about 24 hours after they left the Indianapolis airport.

Sunday: Students are free in the morning to rest from the travel. The group will meet at 11 a.m. in the hotel lobby to visit Asakusa, one of the most popular tourist sites in Tokyo, known for its large red lantern that has appeared in many paintings. They will take a river cruise and visit the Rainbow Bridge. Dinner will be in the Odaiba area at Tokyo Bay.

Update: Here are the highlights of the week in Japan:
  • Visit the Tsukiji fish market — the largest fish market in the world (Mon 3/10)
  • Visit the Ashahi Shimbun — one of the world’s largest newspapers (Mon 3/10)
  • Visit Nissan’s world headquarters — and meet with Vice President-Communications Simon Sproule and his team (Tue a.m. 3/11)
  • Visit Nissan’s plant in Oppama, Japan (Tue p.m. 3/11)
  • Take train three hours to Nikko — historical and cultural area (Wed 3/12)
  • Dinner with Shuri Fukunaga of Burson-Marsteller — one of Japan’s top women in PR (Wed 3/12)
  • Visit Bloomberg’s Tokyo offices; meet with Managing Director Peter Langan and his team (Thu a.m. 3/13)
  • Visit U.S. Embassy-Tokyo. Meet with U.S. Ambassador Tom Schieffer and Press Attache David Marks (an IU grad) (Th p.m. 3/13)
  • Meet with NEWSWEEK Asian Bureau Chief Christian Caryl (Th p.m. 3/13)
  • Visit Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan for tour, panel discussion (Th p.m. 3/13)
  • Visit Gavin Anderson’s (PR firm) Tokyo offices — and meet with Managing Director William Sposato (Fri 3/14)
  • Meet with Mazda Corporate Communications team (Fri p.m. 3/14)
  • Karaoke (Fri p.m. 3/14)
  • Fly back to U.S. (Sat 3/15)

Flying to Japan

Anne Kibbler | March 7, 2008
The 16 International Public Relations students and faculty members Jim Bright and Radhika Parameswaran left Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at 10:45 this morning (Central time) on an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight to Tokyo.

The flight to Japan will take about 13 hours. The plane will land at Narita International Airport, one of the world’s key airports, around 2:50 p.m. Saturday.

Tokyo is 14 hours ahead, so the plane will land around 1 a.m. Saturday, Bloomington time.

The airport is east of Tokyo and students will take the Narita Express train into the city.

The group spent Thursday night at the Radisson hotel near the Indianapolis International Airport in preparation for the early morning flight to Chicago.

En route

Tim Street | March 7, 2008
The Japan group departed from the Indianapolis airport this morning and will stop in Chicago before continuing on their way to Japan.