As a person born and raised in the West, I get asked this question a lot – usually within 5 minutes of a conversation starting. Why, with the multitude of prestigious business schools in Europe and across the pond in the US, have I flown half way across the world to a place where the concept of an MBA is merely starting to find its feet? I take a deep breath and begin my usual talk of bridging cultures, of enjoying life in Japan, of the fact that Japan is a case worth studying both in the present and historically. As the list begins to whittle down, I hit the unavoidable wall, and my eyes start to shift nervously. Should I tell them? Should I tell them the real reason? After a brief pause, the words inevitably escape my lips: “I was also brought up watching Anime and reading Manga.” This is usually met with great enthusiasm, and a bond of mutual appreciation for the art is formed. Why was I even so hesitant in the first place?
I, like many people around the world who are infatuated with Japan, was first exposed to the country and its culture through the medium of Anime and Manga. For some it was something they picked up and left behind, but for others it has followed them throughout their lives: watching Nobita causing mischief with Doraemon’s gadgets as a kid, hot-blooded battles between alien super-warriors as a teenager and appreciating the delicate storytelling of a Ghibli film as an adult. It would be difficult to find any foreigner in Japan who hasn’t had any contact with it whatsoever. While it is a stretch to say that this was the main reason I embarked on my journey at Hitotsubashi ICS, it certainly led me down this path, and one of the first things I made sure to do was to be completely open about it.