Internships, Students, Workshop

Mitsubishi FUSO Workshop with iCLA Students

by Chloe Ramirez



Being able to work with successful and important companies is a goal for many college graduates. As companies aim to employ competent and efficient personnel in order to come up with quality results, it is vital for students to interact with company representatives and be exposed to workplace values, expectations, and cultures prior to graduation.

An integral part of Daimler AG (DAI), the Mitsubishi FUSO Truck and Bus Corporation, a center for light-duty truck and hybrid technology development, represents the unique combination of a German-style workplace, an international workforce, and a Japanese location.

Recently, Mitsubishi FUSO held a team building workshop at iCLA, together with a few iCLA students and led by iCLA Professor William Reed. The workshop was separated into four sections, which combined team building exercises in the classroom with lessons from Japanese culture through Shodo and Nanba:

  1. Team Profile and Communication
  2. Team Strategy, Vision, and Mission

  3. Shodo—Meet Musashi, Meet Your Mission

  4. Nanba—Head, Heart, and Hara

Before the workshop began, we took a simple online test that produced a profile of our personalities and the make up of the team. The results of these tests were then examined and analyzed by Professor Reed. These results helped us understand how each of us can contribute to the team. We used these results to see how the team can effectively communicate and implement our vision and mission, which the team had already written in advance of the workshop.


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Halfway through, we had the opportunity to practice Shodo, learning the basics of how to use the brush, then copying a masterwork by Miyamoto Musashi to absorb the samurai spirit. Lastly, we painted a phrase often used by Musashi reflecting how to see the whole as a distant mountain, but also to be able to see detail and how everything is connected, linking all the themes we discussed in the first part of the workshop.


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Finishing up the workshop, we moved to the Dojo on the third floor and were introduced to Nanba. In this Japanese art form, we were taught how to find and maintain posture with good alignment and centering, as well as how to maintain a calm center in walking and sitting. This training can be used in ones studies and work in order to maximize one’s skills.


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Throughout the workshop, we frequently reviewed what we had learned and how it could be applied in work or academics. Everyone came away with new insights and inspirations about how to work well as a team towards a common mission, while developing  awareness of one’s strengths and contributions as an individual.

It was a great opportunity for everyone to learn from people of different generations and degrees of experience. The program was coordinated by one of our iCLA students, Kaho Tanaka, who is currently finishing up her internship at Mitsubishi FUSO, and no doubt will come back to iCLA with wonderful things to share from her internship experience.

This is the first workshop which we have conducted at iCLA with one of our partner corporations. These partners have already seen what the students of iCLA can do, as a number of interns have gone through the full experience. No doubt, all in the university look forward to doing similar trainings with other partner companies.

For more information on Mitsubishi FUSO, please visit their website.

japan studies, Students

My Experiences on NHK Cool Japan

NHK Cool Japan is one of the most widely watched programs in English worldwide, broadcast not only in Japan but by satellite to 108 countries, and viewable on YouTube. In late 2017, they did a special on Yamanashi featuring iCLA students doing amazing things in the prefecture. They also filmed almost 50 students in the iCLA Lecture Theater, and invited eight students to NHK headquarters. That program was aired nationally in Japan on the evening of January 1, 2018 in Prime Time, with much of the nation watching!

Jules Brunet, a student at the IESEG School of Management (Paris) on a one-year exchange at iCLA, reminisces about his unique, life-changing appearance on Cool Japan: 

“Reed-Sensei, we loved filming students on the iCLA campus, this was amazing. We’re gonna have eight of them coming to our New Year Special edition in December.”

One month later, we met in Shibuya station.

As soon as we arrived in the NHK Studios HQ, we were welcomed by the Cool Japan crew, who directed us to the rest of the group, composed of young adults from all over the world.


The requisite selfie. 

Most of them were used to the show and had participated several times, which made us a little nervous as it was a first for us. We all gathered around snacks and talked with complete strangers, who felt like long-time friends by the end of the day.

Showtime was at 3 PM. We sat down. We were about 40 people. After receiving instructions, the filming started.

But first: what is Cool Japan

It’s a TV show based on a quite original idea: to display videos shot in Japan which amaze people all over the world.

The international audience must express how they feel while watching the videos : “Why is it cool? Why not? What surprised you so much?”  It ends up being a discussion amongst all cultures about how Japan is like none of them.

I remember videos showing dodgeball games, children catching cicadas, monkey waiters, cosplayers, ASMR Shots, takoyaki cooks, real-life ninjas, anime choreography, high school customs…

I remember the Americans being shocked, the English agreeing, the Russians laughing, the Germans stating they were better; the Australian claiming that they were cooler; the Chinese disliking; the Korean stating “We have the same”; the Brazilian asking “What is this?”; the Indonesian saying “This is not possible in my country”; the Dutch saying “I don’t care”; the Kenyan saying “Calm down”…and me, the French, just saying “Man, that is amazing. But definitely not happening outside of Japan.”

Each of us being the opposite of the rest, yet everyone feeling like a brotherhood, faced to something as different as Japanese culture.


The iCLA contingent on the Cool Japan set. 

We all got to participate actively, and were not aware that five hours had passed,  as we were entranced by the atmosphere.

At the end, we took pictures together: film crew, moderators, and participants.
We promised to keep in touch, after all these amazing encounters with Japanese culture, and each other.

So, if one day you check out an NHK program called Cool Japan, try to find two girls from the Philippines and England, and five guys from Norway, France, Burundi, Uzbekistan and Cameroon (respectively)—that’s us! For the moment, try to find us in this photo:


— Jules Brunet

Arts, japan studies, Students, Workshop

Judo (柔道) at iCLA

In iCLA, not only academics are important to students. Experiencing Japanese culture is also an indispensable component of their education. iCLA offers a variety of hands-on workshops, including one in the modern martial art Judo (柔道). In 1882, Judo was created as a form of physical, mental, and moral pedagogy in Japan.

The coach (先生) and the seniors (先輩) are patient teachers, even to students who knew nothing about Judo before the workshop. Thanks to their earnest instruction and attentive observation, we learn from our mistakes and have improved our skills. Our coach and seniors are top athletes in Japan. It is such a precious opportunity to learn from them.
Calvin Chan, exchange student from Lingnan University (Hong Kong)


This class is special! We can wear judo-gi and our sensei is funny!
                   Moe, second year student at iCLA

P.S.: Our coach, Mr. Takahiro Nishida, is the head coach at Yamanashi Gakuin University and father of Yuka Nishida, World Champion in Tokyo in 2010.

japan studies, Students, Workshop

Bendik and Stephen: experiences in Japan

Former iCLA exchange students Bendik Aarsæther and Stephen Kissick have produced a series of videos sharing their experiences of their year abroad in Japan.

Let’s take a look at Stephen experiencing Shugendo (修験道), a highly syncretic religion that originated in Heian Japan:


A time-lapse video of Bendik’s showing the beauty of Japan (including stellar shots of Kofu & iCLA):


Created by: Bendik Aarsæther: &
Presented by: Stephen Kissick:

For more of their videos, please visit: BA Productions

Arts, interview

Kei Takei in the New York Times!

24KEITAKEI-3-master675iCLA’s very own dance professor Kei Takei was recently profiled and interviewed in the New York Times. She will be appearing with her Moving Earth Orient Sphere company on the Lumberyard in the City Winter Festival in New York on January 25th.

The NYT article can be read below and here: kei_takei_nyt_article_24jan2018 (pdf)