Student Voice

2018.04.16Student Voice

Touring Akita Industry with RCOS: Kao Chin-Wen, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan

Kao Chin-Wen (front, right) at Oogatamura Akitakomachi Seisansya Kyokai (Ogata Town Akita Komachi Rice Producers Association).

Getting Involved

Studying abroad in AIU showed me the importance of inclusion. My parents, friends and professors told me that I’ll have to join different type of activities to experience the “real” Japanese culture. They were not wrong, and honestly it has changed my life.

The Research and Community Outreach Services (RCOS) was the place to go for me to volunteer and actively participate in the community while having lots of fun. From helping elementary kids learn English to participating in a homestay program which make my campus life better in AIU.

Company Visits

During my time in AIU I had the opportunity to visit several companies in Akita. I was able to meet a lot of people in my journey and learn about the local companies.

Natto: Yamada Foods

To begin with, I had the opportunity to go to a natto (fermented soybeans) company. As soon as I got there, the manager was very kind and introduced me to the company’s history and the benefits of eating natto.

Before I got there, I have never tried natto because of the strong smell and slippery texture. My willingness to experience as an international student, helped me overcome my fear and try this local dish, which it was not as bad as I thought it was.

An assortment of natto products for sampling at Yamada Foods, including natto salsa and natto-powder in pasta toppings.

Komachi Rice: Ogata Town Akita Komachi Rice Producers Association

Then, my experience at the rice-processing company was unique. After the introduction of the company, I was asked about my opinion on how to export rice to my country.

It was an amazing experience in the way they got me involved and asked for advice from someone who has been “out there”. They are involved in a wide range of products including gluten-free rice, which shows how they are committed to an ever-expanding market and the pursuit of healthy products.

Wood Processing: Marumatu Meibokuten

Marumatu Meibokuten's featured wood design product, which has been used as wall paper at Akita Airport

Finally, I was able to go for the very first time in my life to a wood-processing company.

Compared to the other companies I have been before, this one had few employees. Although they did not have many employees, it was interesting to see their work ethics and efficiency when working the machinery, which quite honestly was very cool. Being there helped me recall the word “shokunin” (craftsman) and the involvement of working their best and the mastery on what they do.

After the tour throughout all these amazing companies allowed me to learn deeply about the local companies in Akita. There is a lot you’re taught and told in class, but it does not compare completely to experiencing it on site. I was able to see first-hand the shokunin spirit in these three companies and had an amazing experience learning and trying new foods and the working culture in Akita.