The Wall Street Journal Tokyo

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To view a slideshow of this blog, please click here.

The Wall Street Journal Asia, launched in 1976, brings attention to the region’s business and financial features to 275, 671 readers. Published by Dow Jones & Company, the Asian Journal is printed in nine different cities including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. The main regional office is located in Hong Kong.

By visiting Tokyo’s bureau, we were able to gather some insight on how one of the most circulated newspapers in the world works. The Tokyo bureau itself has 15 reporters and four editors who are divided into traditional beats. Approximately half of the staff is Japanese while the other half is American or Japanese-American. Staff members can always expect to work long, diligent hours. Reporters are passionately dedicated to capturing their stories.

There is a photographer and videographer on staff as well. The Journal uses video whenever seen as appropriate and is working on implementing more video in the future. There’s a team in Hong Kong who will fly out to various locations to capture footage for larger stories. The bureaus will sometimes even hire freelancers to cover a story.

We learned that the way the Journal keeps track of developing new stories is by having their reporters keep an eye on what’s happening. Located in Hong Kong, they have what they call a “real-time desk” where editors are dedicated to monitoring news by using various Twitter feeds and various wire services to keep track of breaking news.

We learned an outline of the editorial process the Journal goes through before a story makes it into the paper. For example, if the story is a feature story, editors will sit down with a reporter and talk over ideas. Throughout the process, the editors will continue to consult with the reporter. The bureau will then give it an edit and once they think it’s ready they will file it via email either to the Hong Kong or New York desk where it will go through a more intense edit.

The Tokyo bureau does offer internships for those wanting to come overseas to work in Japan. Besides conquering the language barrier, having a deep understanding of the subject matter in the region is essential. You must be able to effectively demonstrate what you can do. Required skills needed to be able to work at the Journal are to be able to write about various topics and to be able to edit. Knowing more about a specific subject matter that interests you that not a lot of people can write about would be in your benefit.

Overall we realized that working for such a prestigious and renowned news agency requires dedication and passion for journalism.

 

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My weekend trip back to Tokyo!

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This weekend, June 17 through 19, Jackie and I traveled back to Tokyo to celebrate her 23rd birthday.

Since the train ride from Fukuoka to Tokyo is a long one, we decided to stay the night in Nagoya on Thursday. Not having any prior knowledge about the city, we were pleasantly surprised by its lively atmosphere. Once again, we were helped by two locals who so willingly helped us find our AirBnb. The kindness from the people of Japan never ceases to amaze me.

We slept a quick four hours that night and got up bright and early to catch the train to Tokyo. Despite my hatred for early mornings, it was well worth it because we got to the city early enough to catch a sumo wrestling practice in Asakusa! Scared that we might not be allowed to go in, we waited outside frantically looking for someone who spoke Japanese. All of the sudden, we saw three young teens start to walk inside. We abruptly stopped them and asked if we could tag along with them. We went inside to a room and took our shoes off and left our bags. When we walked into the sumo stable, I felt like I was in a dream. I couldn’t believe I experienced something as unique as this. We got our mats and sat cross-legged on the outskirts of the practice area. About 15 sumo wrestlers were doing everything from one-on-one practicing, squats and weight-lifting. I felt like I was in the scene of a movie. Later that day, we explored the nightlife of Shibuya and went to a popular club that played mostly American hip-hop.

The next day we went back to Harajuku. One reason being because we loved it so much and another being that the district’s street fashion happens to be my cultural topic for my final study abroad project. Every store and boutique caught our attention. We explored Takeshita street for hours. I found tie dye socks and a vintage Doors shirt to give to my best friend. We later walked to the more expensive side of Harajuku where all the trendy, high-end stores are. Looking for food, we ended up discovering a café that was not only also a clothing store but a surf shop as well. I ordered a avocado vegetable sandwich on toast with fries which reminded me of home. We sat in the downstairs room which felt like a cozy basement. There were couches, bean bags, a bar and surfboards. Right across from the boards there was a window where you could see a man actually making the surfboards.

Afterwards, we went out to Roppongi, an area famous for its nightlife. The bars there were surprisingly filled with more foreigners than natives. It was an awesome experience to explore deeper into to Tokyo than before and I was sad we were leaving. Tokyo is by far the coolest city I’ll ever have the chance of visiting.

 

My weekend in Kyoto and Nara!

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This weekend, June 10 through 12, my group and I traveled to Kyoto and Nara. After getting off at the station in Kyoto, we wandered around looking for our AirBnb. Due to the lack of signs, address numbers and small alleyways, we were lost. Luckily, my confused and lost face saved us because two English-speaking Japanese doctors approached us and asked if we needed help. We explained to them that we were lost and with no hesitation they helped us find our home. Walking with their bikes by their sides, they led us to our destination in no time. Beyond grateful, we invited them out for a drink in compensation of helping us. They took us to a local restaurant where we tried delicious stir-fry noodles, a “Japanese pancake” and sake. I’m not just saying this because I’m in Japan, but the sake here is far, far better than any sake I’ve ever tried in the States.

The next morning, we trudged up to the top of Arashiyama mountain. The entrance to the pathway was marked with a large, red torii gate. It took about twenty minutes to hike up the trail. The humidity was beating me down but there was nothing that was going to stop me from seeing the indigenous monkeys at the top! I was ecstatic when we got to the top especially because I’ve had an obsession with monkeys since I was kid. Everywhere you looked, there were monkeys walking around, grooming each other and climbing on the feeding room. You could buy either a bag of apples or a bag of peanuts for 100 yen. I of course bought both. I laughed at how the monkeys would extend their arms for the food before I even reached into the bag. At the peak of the mountain you could see an incredible view of the city.

Then, we walked through a crowded bamboo forest. Crystal and Samantha looked like royalty as they were carried through the forest on a rickshaw. Everyone hustled to move out of their way. We walked through the shops that included everything from fans, lucky cats, samurai swords and chopsticks. Every food vendor had something matcha flavored. Due to the intense heat outside, I couldn’t help but to get a matcha ice cream cone and dango, which is a type of dumpling made from rice flour.

From there, we traveled to Nara where we saw the enormous Buddha statue at the Todai-ji temple. In front of the temple a man lit incense in a large pot. The smell was calming. I got chills when we walked into the temple because of how huge the statue was. The Buddha shrine was decorated with offerings such as oranges, incense, flowers and candles. Besides the main Buddha statue, there were other statues there including the Pindola and the Tamonten. The temple was located near Nara Park which was crowded with deer! You were allowed to approach and touch the deer. I couldn’t help but to take a few selfies with them.

The next day we did a World Heritage tour where we saw various temples and shrines. Highlights of the tour included the Kinkaku-ji temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion. The temple sat on the water with beautiful scenery behind it. My favorite temple we visited was the Kiyomizu temple in Higashiyama because of its beautiful colors. At the peak of the hill you could see the entire city, as well as the Kyoto tower. After taking a small break from walking all day, we went to the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, which had over a thousand torii gates. It was beyond worth it. This weekend was one that I will never forget!

“Meow Meow”

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I was waiting until my Tokyo trip to find the infamous cat cafés of Japan. Looking for something to do during our last hour in Osaka this weekend, we came across a café in a small, hidden alleyway. We apprehensively walked up the stairs, not knowing what to expect. We found an area where everyone’s shoes were tucked away in cubbies. We put on the slippers with cat faces on them that we found in a basket. We opened the door to a quiet room and were told to sit in the waiting room. We read the rules of the café that listed cautions such as “don’t do things that cats don’t like, like picking them up” and I then ordered a matcha tea latte (of course) that was included in the hourly fee. We eagerly went into the cat room and I couldn’t help but to laugh at my stereotypical Japanese experience. We were handed small pieces of chicken to feed the cats. There was a box of toys including balls, feathers and string for us to play with them. It was so much fun watching them run across the room and interacting with them. There was a variety in the types of cats but they were all friendly. I was beyond happy to be able to cross this experience off my bucket list.

Travel Advice

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When I told my friends I was traveling to Japan this summer, most of them replied with “but you don’t speak Japanese!” and “what about the language barrier?” I wasn’t fazed by their questions. I thought the complications of the language would make my trip one to remember. After two weeks of being in Japan, I can offer some travel advice for traveling in country where you don’t know one bit of their language. Japan has one of the most complex subway systems in the world. New York’s system doesn’t even compare. Luckily though, there are plenty of signs in English. You just have to pay attention and read every sign. Don’t be afraid to ask one of the locals for directions. Chances are they know enough English to lead you in the right direction. Or if you’re as lucky as me, you can stand in the street looking lost and confused and you will be approached by bilingual Japanese doctors who ask “what’s wrong with you?” and can lead you to your destination. Another piece of traveling advice is to pack light. After carrying a giant suitcase, backpack and heavy purse all across Tokyo, I now know how grateful I would’ve been if I had left half my clothes at home. To save space on packing, always roll your clothing instead of stacking it on top of each other.

Especially if you are going on a study abroad trip where you will be walking all day, bring comfortable footwear! It’s extremely important so you don’t have any pain that prevents you from being able to do all the wonderful sightseeing. I thought I could get away with my sandals but I’ve learned that comfort definitely outweighs cute in a city where no one drives.

One of the most important pieces of advice I can offer is to try new things. If you are embedding yourself into a new culture, live like that culture does! It’s not every day that you get to live and breathe outside of your cultural norms. Not being afraid to try new things will maximize your experience. Not to mention you can gain bragging rights that you’ve done something that no one else you know has done.

Learning PR in Japan

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The fist blog I ever published was about research I found in relation to the public relations industry in Japan. Now I’ve had a firsthand learning experience of how PR works from actual Japanese professionals. As a PR student, I’m always analyzing the communications strategies that companies and organizations use. I felt honored to be able to learn the strategies that such big companies such as Sanrio Co. and FleishmanHillard use. From Inoue Public Relations I learned that in Japan, telephone or video interviews are very uncommon. Face-to-face interviews are what’s expected. In the United States, people will do what is most convenient for them and video interviews aren’t out of the norm. The United States has such a way of doing public relations that many foreign practitioners don’t have transferable skills. Japanese companies don’t outsource public relations on an ongoing basis. Press events have a high level of credibility in Japan that journalists attend. Main media relations in Japan include setting up interviews, PR releases, crisis communication, government relations, investor relations, employee relations and marketing communications. In regards to media, both the U.S. and Japan face the difficulty of everything going digital. From Sanrio, we learned that for new product releases, they don’t typically put out press releases and instead just release the information all at once. This comes as a surprise and raises publicity online. When they do create press releases, they are very informative and fact-heavy. They use a lot of joint news releases. It’s rare for a news release to contain comments by CEOs.

I was so impressed by the lecture that the CEO of FleishmanHillard gave us. He taught us that changing people’s mindsets is the biggest obstacle for PR practitioners. He taught us about the tactic of issue branding, which is when you raise awareness of an issue that consumers did not know they had. By offering a solution to the issue, it’s more likely that you can change the consumer’s mind. I’m so grateful I got to learn new information about my major from another culture!

Navigating Japan!

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Konnichiwa! I just got through my first week in Japan and I’ve already experienced so many new things. I felt the culture shock as soon as I got off the plane and that feeling still hasn’t gone away. For the first time, people are constantly asking me where I’m from and are looking at me with wide eyes. We spent the last week in Tokyo touring various news and public relations agencies. It has been an adrenaline rush trying to make it through the busy train stations on time but it’s all part of the experience. Navigating the country is a difficult task due to the obvious language barrier but the locals are so nice and love to help you find your destination. The food has been one of the most exciting aspects of the culture shock. From mochi cream to squid on a stick, there’s new cuisine to find every day. It’s sometimes difficult to order in the restaurants but everything is so delicious it’s kind of hard to go wrong. I wish the restaurants in Texas could be as cool as the one’s I’ve found in Tokyo. Some restaurants set up tables for you on the street and let you enjoy the beautiful city night lights. Another restaurant was several stories up and had windows that let you see the busy street below. There was also a piano player in the middle of the room that made the ambiance so lively. One of my favorite experiences so far has been visiting Harajuku because I had the chance to see what people my age, in their 20s, like to do. I was in awe of the fashion there because it’s so bold and hip. We’ve only been in Fukuoka for a few days now and I’m already infatuated by the scenery. We had a special opportunity to meet some of the students from the university and it was so much fun hearing about their hobbies, interests and goals. I don’t believe you can ever be bored with a country as exciting as this one.