Published: July 13, 2016
James, Kaito and Adam in Japan

In collaboration with CU Study Abroad and the CU Leeds School of Business Global Initiatives program, The Center for Asian Studies has partnered with three companies in Tokyo to offer internships to CU students this summer. The internships aim to provide opportunities for students to live in Japan and learn about Japanese business culture while gaining valuable international work experience.

We are excited to share interns’ thoughts on culture and business practices during their time in Japan.

CU Boulder Senior Francisco Padilla has just finished interning with Chiyoda Rubber Company in Tokyo. He describes his experiences on a company retreat getting to know his coworkers and partaking in Japanese traditions:

The Japanese have a very interesting way of letting off steam. It seems that one of the big things to do is sing karaoke. One evening the whole company spent the evening eating, drinking, and singing up on a stage. As I am a naturally shy person, I was reluctant but they insisted on it. They thought, since I was working with them now, I had to partake in their festivities. One of them even used the famous saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This made me realize how integral participating was. By participating, I was allowing my co-workers to see a little deeper into what kind of person I am. Depending on the way I composed myself in front of them, they would be able to figure some things out about me. It was all about getting to know each other in a more personal manner. I have a strong feeling that this kind of thing is done in companies all throughout Japan.

The last big event that takes place during these kinds of excursions is the obvious one – sharing food and drink. By the end of each meal, a lot of laughs were shared and we had all engaged in good conversations. This ritual yet again gave everyone a chance to get to know everyone a little better. I think that these kinds of activities are not only necessary, but also integral to have in Japanese companies specifically. Having experienced working for an American and Japanese company now, I realize that in American companies, people are a little more lax. They are more open, so I’ve never been curious about who they are as people.

In Japan, everyone has two faces, a work face and a private face. In order to even begin to see the private face, you must spend time together out of work. It felt like I met a whole new set of people on this excursion. Moreover, when I retuned to work the following Monday, the atmosphere didn’t feel as cold as I had remembered. There was a sort of friendliness in the air. Thus, if these types of rituals didn’t occur in companies in Japan, it would be very hard to keep up with all the pressure. The Japanese have perfected a method to get to know their fellow employees in the quickest and most efficient manner possible. After just a day of activities, I now know all of my co-workers quite well, everything from their hobbies to their favorite foods. I know their personalities and their attitudes towards an assortment of topics. I am also certain that they know about the same amount of information about me. This is a huge part of Japanese business culture I never even knew existed.”

Check back soon for more updates from students interning in Japan! We also plan to offer more internship opportunities for summer 2017. Please check here in the fall or email Danielle Salaz at for more information.