May 15, 2012
The final stop of today’s adventure was Toyota’s National Headquarters main building.
By David Cortes
After spending time at Toyota Logistics Services in Long Beach and visiting Terminal Island, we stopped at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Gardena. It was a Japanese market with a food court inside. Many of us did not have an idea of what to order because it was food that we were not used to seeing. Eventually, we all ended getting a variety of items ranging from Ramen to traditional Japanese food. It was also the first time that all of us attempted to eat while using chopsticks, which is a big part of Japanese culture when eating food. Dr. Sanchez made it clear that we were going to learn how to use them by the time we arrived at Japan. Moreover, he mentioned that we were going to practice by picking up M & M’s on the plane in order to learn how to use chop sticks effectively.
We were given some time to purchase traditional Japanese snacks after lunch in order to try new things. Felipe shared thin cookies that had chocolate inside of them, which was delicious and a great compliment to the lunch that we had. The overall experience at the Mitsuwa Marketplace was amazing because we had an opportunity to get a taste of what to expect once we leave for Japan this Saturday.
Students practiced eating with chopsticks during lunch to prepare for Japan.
Dr. Sanchez promised students they would be pros by the time they returned.
By Eric Ochoa
Today we visited the national headquarters of Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, CA and it was an enlightening experience considering I have grown up my entire life in Torrance and have always driven by the headquarters without knowing what was inside. We received 2 presentations from James Colon, the Vice President of Product Communication, as well as Kiki Rice, the College Relations Manager. James Colon’s presentation focused on the business aspect and Toyota’s relationships with its dealerships and sort of gave us an overview of how they have managed to stay a successful company for so long.
James Colon, VP of Toyota Product Communications, shared Toyota’s recipe for success with the students.
Kiki Rice, College Relations Manager, gave helpful tips for acquiring any coveted internship or job.
This really helped show us where there were differences between Toyota’s business model and their American competitors. It was eye-opening to see how much really goes on behind the scenes in the automobile industry and how everything from the dealerships to the Toyota Company is connected. After Colon’s presentation Kiki Rice gave another one that focused more on recruitment and the kinds of jobs that Toyota Motor Sales has to offer and she offered great advice on how to stand out from other applicants during the whole application process. This was extremely useful since I am an engineering major and one of the most crucial aspects of my undergraduate career is getting internships and communicating with employers so this was great advice. It will be interesting to visit the Corolla plant in Japan and get a glimpse into how Toyota runs their business from the beginning of the process. Being introduced to all of the technical aspects of the automotive industry really helped solidify my interest in the industry and helped motivate me to continue down the path I am currently following; having grown up in Torrance, I never realized how important location was for the success of the these companies. It fascinates me that I’ve lived so close to this for so long and never knew about it until now.
In Long Beach, students watched Toyota employees add accessories to cars shipped over from Japan.
Audie Freeman, the National Logistics Manager, amazed students with the number of cars that go through the Vehicle Distribution Center.
By Raul Alcantar
As we continue in our preparatory journey to Japan, we visited the Vehicle Distribution Center at Toyota Logistic Services (TLS). The VDC is located at the Port of Long Beach, which is one of the major ports on the West Coast, bringing in thousands of shipments everyday. Goods are imported from countries like Japan and China, which range from toys to vehicles and almost any other object that we use in our everyday life. Audie Freedman, the National Logistics Manager, gave us a presentation on how this branch of the company functions and how it is structured.
Students were excited to see the new two-door model debuting at the end of the month.
He also gave us a tour of the VDC, at one point showing us the Lexus LFA, a sports car worth over $400,000. It was interesting to see the company in action after reading about Japanese philosophy when it comes to the workplace. For instance, the Japanese are known for the emphasis they place on detail and respect in any kind of job. At TLS, we witnessed how much attention they pay to every little detail when they import cars from Japan, processing every adjustment, repair, or damage. Furthermore, Freedman also pointed out that the youngest employee at TLS had been working there for over six years, demonstrating that the loyalty mentality of the Japanese translates well into the American workforce. Today was a very exciting day and we can’t wait to see what Toyota in Japan has to show us. The adventure has only begun.
Kim Vu and the rest of the group eagerly posed next to a Lexus LFA with a $400, 000 price tag.
Johanna Becerra didn’t pass up the chance.
Eric Ochoa, the group’s mechanical engineering major and car-lover, might have been the happiest person of the day!
By Shay Washington
On the first day of the Summer Immersion Program, we watched a video about a community on the Southern California coast that was removed by the federal government. Terminal Island in Long Beach, now the biggest port industry in the United States, was once populated by Japanese immigrants and citizens prior to the 1940s. Arriving with skills as fisherman, the Japanese settled on the coast to continue making a livelihood the best way they knew how. Over the years, the Japanese men worked hard and built a community for the women and children where they fused Japanese and American culture. Baseball fields coexisted with Shinto Shrines and the Japanese began to speak a sort of “Janglish,” a combination of their former and new language. The former residents were very nostalgic about their life on Terminal Island.
Students watched a documentary about Terminal Island the day before they visited the memorial.
The former inhabitants described it as a place where children could play without supervision, neighbors were considered family members, and the community worked as a unit. All of this changed however the day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The federal government named the Japanese citizens “aliens” and “spies.” Within two months after the bombing, all the Japanese residents of Pearl Harbor were relocated to internment camps in Manzanar. While they were gone, their whole community was leveled, leaving no evidence of their former existence. Today we had the opportunity to visit the former site where a small memorial now exists in remembrance of the people who once lived there. When we watched the video, we heard stories from the former residents of Terminal Island about how happy and blissful their lives were before they were uprooted so it touched me when I visited the site to see how the community had vanished. I saw photos at the site and read more about the people who once lived there. As a native of Los Angeles, I would have never known about this community before SIP Japan. I’ve driven through Terminal Island a few times but I wouldn’t have possibly known this memorial exists. Now I plan to encourage my friends and family to visit the small site and learn more about the lost community of Americans.