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Class Report 2014


Class Report 61: November 12th, 2014


On November 12th, 18 of us including 4 new members from different countries Hong Kong, China, USA and Romania gathered at Studio PETU. It was the last class this year, and Studio PETU will be closed in the end of this month (will move to a new place near the Takeshita street in Harajuku).

After watching some slides and videos, we were separated into 3 groups, and discussed the topic “laughter and humor” (e.g. what made you laugh, factor/types of humor, and which nation or culture has the best sense of humor?).

 


About “humor”, we discovered that humor isn’t always as universal as we think. It can be difficult to determine what aspects define a certain sense of humor. And humor is influenced by many factors culture, historical background, age, gender, religion, intelligence, personal experience, level of education and geographical location. Therefore humor is something which is not always transferrable in another country. What somebody from one area may find hilarious may not be amusing at all to somebody from another location.

 

In group talks, one new member from Hong Kong pointed out the timing, which was an essential when you say jokes or puns to make people laugh. Some members talked about “taboo words” for comedy. It is considered to be taboo using the word linked to Emperor in Japan, on the other hand, any words are acceptable and opened in US. One of the most impressive talks from Romanian woman was that Ken Shimura (バカ殿様) was a real comedian in Japan because of his hilarious performance, funny make-up and his ridiculous acting even we can laugh at watching his silence.

 

We also discussed the difference of the sense of humor in countries. For example, one of the most common differences between the British and American sense of humor is that Americans don’t understand irony. The American prefer simple and easy jokes (also like slapstick), but the British like to express a strong preference for jokes involving word-play and self-deprecating.

 

All nations have subtle differences in their humor styles, but we can appreciate and understand the others’ sense of humor. We would rather enjoy the differences and find something new that tickles your funny-bone!

 

A great thank-you to all participants for attending ICT class! We are looking forward to seeing you at next ICT class in 2015! 


Written by Tsubasa Kato (Jojo)







Class Report 60: October 29th, 2014


On October 29th, 12 of us including 5 new members gathered at Studio PETU in Harajuku. We all had a great time in a cozy atmosphere!

 

After talking about the advantages and disadvantages of being a billionaire for 20 minutes, we moved on to the debate part with the topic “Can money buy happiness"?

 

We were separated into 2 groups, the affirmative and negative side, the team that agrees with the topic is called the affirmative, while the team that disagrees is called the negative.

 

One strong argument on affirmative side was to get “time freedom” after making money, of course, to get “financially freedom”. Happiness means that you can do anything at anytime (e.g. satisfied with eating good food, buying high quality clothing, exercising with a good trainer, helping people, new experiences and whatever you want), so money can buy happiness!

On the other hand, the team on the negative side defined “happiness” first, and presented its main line which happiness cannot be measured. How can you tell the difference in level of happiness? We feel happiness even if we are not rich, because happiness is the sum of small things you feel happy in our daily life. It means it’s not related to be wealthy. Therefore, money can’t buy happiness! Both teams were active and spoke clearly, being passionate in their speech!


A big big thank-you to all participants for attending ICT class, and thanks for your time and great discussion! We are looking forward to seeing you at next ICT class on November 12. Keep warm!

 





Written by Tsubasa Kato (Jojo)





Class Report 59: October 3rd, 2014


On October 3rd, 18 of us including 7 new members gathered at Studio PETU in Harajuku. All participants were very active and they all had a fun discussion with a nice atmosphere!

 

After playing “AHA game” (card game finding 3, 4 Japanese words) for 4 rounds, we moved on to the discussion part and talked about “Why do people drink alcohol"?

 

People drink alcohol for different reasons, and those reasons are not always obvious, so we were separated into 4 groups (discussed drinking alcohol “amount”, “effects”, “reasons” and “characteristics” of the people love alcohol) and changed our seats every 15 minutes to blend ideas and our funny experience to share.

 

One of the members from “Effect” team introduced the Japanese proverb “酒は百薬の長” (A little something to drink is the best medicine.) to others. Although Sake is said to be the best medicine to cure any diseases in Edo period, now it could be the good excuse for drinking “adequate” amount of alcohol every day! In addition, we found the “personalities” of the alcohol lovers were friendly, laughing a lot and brave. Some people shared the reason drinking alcohol was to have more courage to approach others, but to have a great time with their friends and colleagues for most participants.

 

A very big thank-you to our participants for attending our ICT Weekday Night Class last Friday! We hope you found new reasons why we drink beers and other alcohol drinks and enjoyed the lively conversation with the members from different countries before ICT Oktoberfest (October 11th, 5:00pm)!!  

 


Many thanks for your time and energy! We are looking forward to seeing you at our other ICT events as well!


 

Written by Tsubasa Kato (Jojo)




Class Report 58: September 12th, 2014


On September 12, 17 of us including 7 new members gathered at Studio PETU in Harajuku. It had been a while to have a weekday night class with this large number of participants!

After introducing each other, we moved on to the discussion part and talked about “Is the Japanese perspective of common sense applies to other countries?".


The concept of common sense is based on individual experiences and perceptions, therefore your idea of "common sense" may contradict someone else's depending on past experiences (ex. Where/How you lived and who you met).

We shared the differences of our ideas of common sense and exchanged not only unique points/views in Japan but those in other counties.


We were separated into 3 groups, and changed our seats every 15 minutes to mix ideas and our stories to share. One of the interesting stories was that the people who are “Stand-up reading” (立ち読み) are often seen in Japan at any bookstores and convenience stores. A woman from Hawaii and those who had lived in the US were wishing to have more spaces to sit down reading books over coffees (e.g. the TSUTAYA in Daikanyama had a big relaxing space for reading).

http://tsite.jp/daikanyama/store-service/tsite-en.html

 

In addition, we discussed one of rare habit in Japan to wear “face mask”. According to one Aussie participant, they cannot wear those masks as you will have funny suntan given strong sunshine in Australia. Hearing his story, although I am Japanese, I will probably change my habit of wearing masks in Aus and apply different approach!


Thanks to the conversation style of participants changing seats for several rounds, we were able to blend ideas, experiences and questions like above! At the end, each group shared their discussion and discoveries to the other groups.

 

After enjoying the class, we moved to our favorite restaurant “Smile Junky” near Studio PETU (I agree it is funny name, but it is just casual food place FYI;) ) We had a blast night with Italian cuisines and friendly participants! Thank you so much for joining us before three-day weekend. Hope to see you all next month!!

 

Written by Takafumi Shikado and Tsubasa Kato (Jojo)




Class Report 57: July 18th, 2014


On July 18th, we had a free talk discussion class on a Friday night at Studio PETU. 7 members including 2 new comers joined and had a great time with our random conversation for 2 hours!

Some participants told us that they would join the activities which all of us must be fun (e.g. fireworks, bonodori, masquerade, cosplay party, musical accompaniment (お囃子)) after ICT organizer Jojo asked all members what workshops and classes you would want to join in the future. And more, one of our regular members, Hide san, gave an idea introducing “Okuni-jiman” with the difference of customs/rules, lifestyle and food in 47 prefectures.


After chatting, Kouichi san (also ICT member) raised a question why Japanese don’t say “thank you” or “please” (without smile in most cases) when they buy something at convenience store or order food at McDonald's. Although it is called that Japanese are “polite”, are we truly “polite”? The Japanese may be unhappy with the quality of service or don’t have the custom saying the words.


We all enjoyed talking freely about past ICT classes and future events related to “Cool Japan” before three-day weekend! Thank you for joining us on a rainy night and giving great ideas and feedbacks for ICT!


ICT class will be opened from Sep, and Jojo will plan for more and more attractive events from this fall. Hope to see you in September!



(Posted by Tsbasa Kato)


Weekend Class Report 3: July 5th, 2014


Ten members gathered at studio PETU Harajuku.

In the free talk part, each member shared their thoughts on three items they would need when surviving in a deserted island for a week before rescuers arrive. Popular choices were food(chocolate), fire-making tools and their loved ones, while some picked unique stuff like a beer server(to feel at ease by drinking) or "Anywhere Door" from the manga Draemon, which opens up to any place the user wishes.

In the discussion part, we explored tips on "how to make a good first impression" in two groups.
Apart from the basic manner/behavior in meeting new people such as being punctual/polite, dress neatly, or smiling, both groups mentioned the importance of asking questions to get to know their personality, which would also show your interest in them and eventually find a common feature to make conversation more stimulating.

However, we can't always follow those tips...sometimes we might end up giving a bad first impression to others. Some of members told that their natural appearance and tone of voice don't usually give people good impression in the beginning, but they don't care about it as an initial impression can be replaced with a good one while building relationships with others over time.

Yes, just as the TED video we watched before the discussion said, the first impression could be very strong and lasting, but it CAN be updated! So why don't we always try to build a "better me" so our first impression could be upgraded, or not to be downgraded!


(Posted by Akie Ueda)





Class Report 56: June 6th, 2014


Eight of us including 1 new member got together at Studio PETU in Harajuku.

After we talked about 梅雨 (rainy season) and learned some new words related to rainy season in Japanese, we moved on next English discussion part with the topic “What is LOVE?”. Unfortunately, it was a small class due to heavy rain, but we enjoyed discussing about “Love” (e.g. Love is the same for all people? Without using the word “feel” or “feelings”, how could you define love? and how could you identify that someone loves you?)!

 

Love is easy to compare but difficult to define it because love feels differently to every person who feels it. So first, we tried to define “Love” with one word. Love, which most of the people first answered a "feeling (emotion)”. But feelings are fluid, not very concrete foundation for a definition. Imagine that the relationships with your family, friends and partners, especially partners, your love may be more dynamic and can be expressed “Love” with a specific word associated with the feeling; hope, eternal, trust and selfless (some members said). Even more we would say, love also stands on behaviors; holding hands, kissing, hugging, dating, marriage, having kids…

 

For the latter part of the discussion, one regular member from the US shared her story based on her experiences, which we needed to brush up ourselves and worked on loving ourselves before loving partners. It means that it can't truly love another without loving yourself first. She also told us that the key to a good relationship with loved ones was to be more independent each other.

 

In addition, one Japanese member added that perhaps love was a temporary, and love for family would be changeable depends on how old you were. For instance, love will change for partner to for kids. However, most of our members strongly hoped to stay with their partners in entire lives, sharing experiences and feelings.

 

Thank you all members for joining the class on a stormy night, and giving unique views and ideas. Hope to see you again at next class on July 5th!


Posted by Tsbasa Kato



Weekend Class Report 2: May 17th, 2014


On May 17th, we had a class for “Are Japanese products are over-spec, performance?” at Studio PETU.


11 guests joined and after having language exchange session for ice break, we had discussion on followings;

1: Do you know any Japanese products which are over performance?

2: Why do you think Japanese products have become over spec/performance?

3: How can we get away from being “Galapagosization” and gain competence in global market?  

 

From the 1st topic, we made 2 groups and discussed separately. We talked about Japanese toilets which are well known for its amazing functions. Participants actually were regarding all functions as well considered functions instead of being over-spec. One member mentioned that “Weak point of Japanese toilets are, they make you addicted to them for its high quality.”

 

As for the 2nd topic, one Iraqi member who worked for Toyota shared interesting view.

From the perspective of working for products which are related to human lives, they should HAVE high quality and performance as Japanese products. While other car companies view accidents were inevitable and did not seek for the perfection, Toyota, the company he worked for, did not compromise at this point

(Please view this car commercial which shows how trusted Japanese cars are!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkNrSZFay1U

 

Therefore, from the member’s view, it’s not that Japanese products are over-spec/performance, but other companies can go further to achieve higher level of service or quality.

 

Lastly on 3rd topic, although we were running out of time, another group shared interesting idea to create a service which save times of people. Time is definitely the most important resource of people. Perhaps the key not to get lost at the path to high quality without falling into over-spec/performance is to hold the idea of “Saving time” in mind.

 

Thank you Jojo for preparing stimulating slides and interesting videos. Of course, we need to thank all the guest joined us on weekends. With your idea, this class became more fruitful ;)

Hope seeing you all again very soon at next ICT class, or at workshops!



Posted by Takafumi Shikado




Class Report 55: May 7th, 2014


Eighteen of us including seven new members got together at Studio PETU in Harajuku.

After a brief self-introduction in groups, we moved on the English Discussion part. The topic on May 7th was “How to enjoy your holidays and vacation”, where most of us talked about our personal stories on Golden Week (GW) and then exchanged our ideas “How many vacation days do you get each year?” looking through some documents which were prepared by Jojo.


In A group, one member suggested that the best way when traveling on holidays especially GW is “安近短” (cheap, close and short) for avoiding crowds. She took a walk around her place with a pedometer (she walked 15,000+ steps/day) and enjoyed the holidays in her own way.


The conversation of B group was picked up holidays/vacation days. Japan has 16 public holidays, which is the large number of days compared to other countries, but Japanese get 7~10 vacation days each year in average. In addition, the paid day off utilization rate was the worst (39%, 7/18days 2013) in the major countries of the world.


Some companies are generous with vacation days; some, not so much. Most companies recommend you off with about two weeks per year, but in fact that it depends on each companies how many days we take paid day off, sick leave and roll over (e.g. based on how long we've been working).


And we also discussed about the new national holiday “山の日” (mountain day) on August 11th (started from 2016) in Japan. One of our members pointed out that it could be meaningful for office workers to get consecutive leave in Obon week (*Obon August 13~15 in general), but others said the more increasing the number of holidays, the more increasing crowded days. In the case of Germany, the paid vacation system is very unique and innovative, which parents can adjust their vacation to children’s summer vacation. Moreover, the vacation system is difference by each religions or areas. It may good for us to get away from the crowds or traffic jams.


With the help of a table leader, each of us enjoyed 1.5-hour discussion and got an opportunity to rethink how to enjoy our holidays (including our LIFE)! Thanks for having a great night with an amazing group of people. Hope to see you again at next class!








Class Report 54: Apil 25th, 2014


Nineteen of us including seven new members go together at Studio PETU in Hrajuku. The topic on the English Discussion part was “How to build successful companies”, where we discussed about “why is McDonald’s so successful worldwide?” and “Much of Starbucks success lies in their clear marketing strategy?” watching slides and videos. And then we moved on the case study part after we found some secrets to success in groups and got some hints how to be a world’s leading company compared Starbucks and MacDonald’s.

 

We were split up into 2 groups and discussed case study how to start new Mos Burger (Hereinafter Mos) branch in New York. After 10 minutes, we presented idea to each other.

 

The plan for one group was “Mos Burger near New York University”, it enables Mos to hire young working power smoothly and to have the students as customers.


The plan of the other group is to start “Health Mos Burger”. The location is near gym, library or suburb area, targeting health conscious people who can afford time for cooking foods only after having orders (To serve fresh, tasty burgers)

 

Brand, it’s something you can’t see, touch, hear, taste and smell.


From the view as marketing person, brands are fruits of emotional experience. Through experiencing many events with the brands, people create their own images to brands (If you experience, fun moments to certain brands, your brand image for them is something “Fun”)

 

Thank all of you who shared views, experiences and time on Friday (Also Jojo-san for preparing all the documents and videos!) We look forward to seeing you again on May 7th after GW!

 






Posted by Takafumi Shikado (and Jojo)




Class Report 53: Apil 9th, 2014


Eight of us including one new member got together at Studio PETU in Harajuku. The topic on the English Discussion part was “Learn how to write a Haiku”, where we challenged to put into words the things that can be seen in our surroundings or describing events that have occurred!


Although Haiku poetry was originally developed by Japanese poets, most of Japanese attendees didn’t know how to write a Haiku. Now Haiku is at present well known and loved throughout the world. English Haiku is also usually written in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables and contains Kigo (season word) which indicates what season of the year the Haiku is set!


We first learned a general idea, structural rule and basic form of Haiku watching slides and videos, and then followed 5 steps to write out a Haiku. Some members selected less obvious Kigo
(e.g. obvious season words are snow for winter; cherry blossoms for spring and heat wave for summer), which was the Japanese style to feel afterglow after reading short poems. Others added a twist ending in the third line to connect images or personal experiences.



Cherry blossoms “ (Sakura)” were frequently appeared as a symbol of life in Haiku. A few members selected a season spring, and referred to Sakura which signified their feeling from joy to sadness. The Japanese have spent our lives with Sakura, and cherry blossoms are always in our hearts!

 


さまざまの事おもひ出す桜哉 by 松尾芭蕉 (Basho)

Cherry blossoms remind me of my past with various memories.

 




Class Report 52: March 25th, 2014


Nineteen of us including nine new members at Studio PETU in Harajuku. The topic on the English Discussion part was “What exactly does "Wagokoro (和心)” mean?”, where we not only clarified ideas about Wagokoro, but explored 4 possible questions* to get to the heart of the topic!

 


We seated four or five members at 4 tables, and connected our ideas as we rotated from table to table for 2 hours. The table host (QA) drew a great conclusion that Wagokoro was a sacrificing spirit to open a new era (from Edo to Meiji), and the most successful Samurai (e.g. Ryoma Sakamoto) kept the spirit for his life. The Group D concluded that continues and well-organized service (e.g. convenience store, delivery service and heated toilet seat) was so unique, and Japanese people could developed their service and take care of all customers.

 

In addition, one of new members from France got the point which the scenery seen from Japanese Fusuma made us feel four beautiful seasons, and also colorful and detailed Japanese food did the same. After several rounds of conversation, many who attended found a common term that Japanese have lived in harmony with nature linked to “Wabi-sabi” concept.

 

Sharing our experiences and viewpoints about Wagokoro with those from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds encouraged us all to think in a more interactive way.

As a result, most of us in attendance enjoyed our conversations in a relaxed atmosphere. We hope this class caused you to think more Japanese minds “Wagokoro” and to spark more interest in future classes!

 


4 questions related to Wagokoro;

A. Do you know the people who have Japanese spirit or warm hearts?

B. What Japanese traditional crafts (伝統工芸品) do you want to use/buy? And why?

C. Is there any place where you feel “Japan”? And why?

D. Is there any moment when you think “Oh, I’m very lucky I’m in Japan now”?




Class Report 51: March 7th, 2014


Twelve of us including three new members got together
at Studio PETU in Harajuku. The topic on the English Discussion part was “Effective Communication (2), 5 tips to make "Impressive" Words”, where we thought how to move people’s hearts and how to create memorable phrases in conversation, speech and advertisements.

We picked up advertising slogans/phrases (e.g. Toyota, Hitachi, Intel, Apple and much more) and discussed why those short phrases were unforgettable after we learned 5 tips to make memorable words. Many who attended discovered something in common that repeated phrases and surprising words moved our hearts. And most of the advertising slogans with a “Gap” method (e.g. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less; we have more degrees, but less sense; more medicine, but less wellness. by ~ The paradox of our time ~) were hard to forget, those adhered to our memories.

In the exercises, thinking the impressive slogans/phrases of funny advertisements, some of us had an idea, catchwords with rhyme (e.g. Buy ~, Bye ~), and others put the witty titles on Olympus and Pet food Company’s ad. Making unique words with twists could be a great way to keep in mind, but many participants found the importance of making
a simple, concise and clearly defined for attracting customers.

As always, the exchange of ideas in the rotating conversation was a great opportunity to step into new levels of self-expression, get some new ideas/perspectives, and think in a more expanded way!



Class Report 50: February 19th, 2014


Sixteen of us including nine new members got together at Studio PETU in Harajuku. The topic on the English Discussion part was “7 tips for Effective Communication”, where we learned what phrases made people more motivate “Yes” when asking favors. From small favors to the more onerous, we are all in the habit of asking one another for help. So we picked up considerate and attractive phrases, thinking from the other person's perspective, by following 7 tips (which based on the hottest communication book).




What would you say when you ask someone for attend the meeting? Saying “Can you cover that meeting for me?” is far less effective than “Can you cover that meeting for me because you are the only one we trust you?” (Tip 5: Only you). In the other case, some members came up with some great ideas when you made your colleague work late. For example, the scenario “Your proposal will be picked up, so can you stay after work? moved someone’s hearts effectively instead of “Can you stay after work?” (Tip 4: Desire of Recognition). In the former phrase, it was a great example to tickle his desire that he wanted to get someone’s approval.


The phrase “No bicycle parking” or “Switch off the light!” are clear but a little powerful thing, If you think it in a different way (e.g. Let’s~ together, think someone’s favorite, choice A or B, and so on) and choose more motivating words before you speak, your friend or colleague’s initial reaction will be “uh-oh” or “happy to help”!

We think that people are inherently good and they like doing things to help, but the most important points when you are asking for a favor are to respect the other person and express “gratitude” in your words all the time!




 

Class Report 49: January 31st, 2014

 

Eight of us including one new member got together at Allincco Office in Shibuya. We moved on the English Discussion part with the topic “What does being an "adult" mean to you?”, which most of the people from Japan first answered "when turning 20" because we Japanese gained the right to vote, as well as buy cigarettes and alcohol (*The age of majority is 18 in most countries).

 

The “being an adult” is often defined by five milestones: “completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying, and having a child”, but we dug the topic a bit deeper from many different aspects in groups.

 
Some members thought that being a grown up meant to take responsibility for their actions and care of themselves (especially health), but others considered that getting skills such as cooking, communication skills and job managements. The funniest moment we felt an adult was that Santa Claus wasn’t exist when we were around 10.

In the second round where mixed the ideas and thoughts to previous conversations, one member answered the unique question “When do you feel that the people around you are adult?” with an example, which was the time the person who was considerable for others. That meant that being more accepting of people even when we had no room to think about others.

We all think growing up differs with each person, but most of us are on the way to “being an adult” which visualized what we want to be.

 

 

Class Report 48: January 10th and 17th, 2014

 
Six of us including one new member got together at Studio PETU in Harajuku. Eight of us including one new member got together at Allincco Office in Shibuya.
 
Each of us picked up New Year’s Resolutions, and then thought “Why do people break New Year’s Resolutions?” In the discussion class, we started by discussing the question and answered the reasons with “The World Café” method, which divided into small groups, wrote/drew key ideas on a big paper, and blended the ideas and discoveries. A table host encouraged guests to link and connect ideas coming from their previous table conversations.
 
After several rounds of conversation, some common key words of the topic “Why do we break resolutions?” were written on the large index cards which were lazy, busy (no time), lose interest, just forgetting, no energy, too much pressure, setting the goal too high, lack of money, and much more. So we naturally moved to the new question “How to stick with resolutions”.
 
At the last round, some members came up with the ideas, which setting realistic goals you can achieve, doing one thing every day for achievement, getting rewards when even small steps completed. One member said to setting punishments.
Now it’s time to pick one of the worthy resolutions, and you CAN keep it this year 2014!
 
And it was the great discussion style for people to move in several rounds of conversation, and to mix the ideas, questions, and themes! At the end, we shared discoveries and insights in a whole group conversation.