The group trip to Japan has always been a popular one among students for Spring Break. During the week in between second and third quarter, those who sign up for the Japan Trek travel together to multiple cities throughout the country, including Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, and Tokyo. This year’s Trek was a special one for multiple reasons. Read more below to find out why!
The number of students from Japan that enrolled in Booth’s Full-Time Program has increased 700% from the Class of 2017 – 2020. Hockey stick growth like this is common in entrepreneurship classes at Booth, like New Venture Strategy and Commercializing Innovation, but rarely do you see such a trend in the student population.
One of the main reasons for this growth may be Booth’s new opportunities and focus in Asia. The school just opened its Hong Kong campus to members of the Executive MBA Program. Dean Stacey Kole has been spending plenty of time in Asia over the past two years preparing for the opening so she decided to stop by Tokyo to say hello at the end of our trek. After a week of travel throughout Japan, we all loved seeing Dean Kole and joining her for a celebratory sake tradition!
The alumni network in Japan has also been growing at rapid pace. Alumni now include the CEO of Bridgestone, CEO of Lixil, CEO of Japan Corn Starch, Founder of Unison Capital (John Ehara who was also the first Goldman Sachs employee and partner in Japan), and KKR’s Head of Asia. Another special alumnus is Osamu Yamamoto, President of the Chicago Booth Club of Japan, and also a Partner at Unison Capital. Osamu was a special guest at the Japan Trek closing dinner and spoke to us about his own Booth Experience.
This year, over 80 students traveled to Japan on the Trek organized by many of the 14 first-year Japanese students. Takumi Korogi, one of the leaders of the trek, enjoyed planning all of the optional tours throughout the week, stating, “It was really fun to imagine how excited our classmates would be… and to build these plans directly with the participants.”
After the trip, Kaori Takikawa, another leader, reflected, “Though it was not an easy task, I was delighted to see the feedback from participants after the trek, since everyone seemed very satisfied. It was an exceptionally rewarding experience.”
At the end of the day, many aspects of The Booth Experience relate to the pay it forward culture. Kenta Arai summed up his planning experience in a similar light, stating, “Japan Trek turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences for me in my first year at Booth. By the last day of the trek, we were one big family. Seeing our fellow Boothies amazed and surprised by their first encounters with various aspects of Japan made us trek leaders feel that all the time and efforts we put into the trek were all worthwhile in the end.”