As part of the Form 4 project week, 20 Oakhamians chose to take part in the Journey to Japan Business and Language challenge. The brief, over two days, was to get a broad understanding of Japanese business culture and current social trends then to design and market a product aimed at the teenage market in Japan. On the way, the teams had to design a manga character to use in their marketing, design and build a prototype of the product and finally to give a sales presentation to a panel of business experts who have previously traded in the Far East.
Along the way to gain a greater understanding of Japanese culture, and also to inform their presentations and product design, the teams learned some fundamental business Japanese, practised Japanese calligraphy, tried on some traditional Japanese dress, turned their hand to Japanese cookery and also learned the basics of Japanese social and business etiquette. It came as quite a shock to some to learn that in a board meeting negotiations typically take place in silence and that only the two most junior delegates traditionally speak to each other and that bowing is mandatory!
All four teams performed well and impressed the business panel of independent experts provided by the Business Language Champions organisation. The final products were well crafted and convincingly marketed – most surprising was the amount of Japanese which some had learned in the space of just two days. The merchandise ranged from water-bottles to parasols, but ultimately the winning team produced a unique origami set for use in schools to encourage tidiness in public spaces. The judges were impressed by the creativity of the idea, the quality of the prototype and also the quality of spoken and written Japanese in the pitch.
Well done to all - particular thanks should go to Mrs Sally Fagan for providing the range of challenges and the business contacts, as well as to the Oakham School Modern Foreign Languages Faculty.