Marketing Student Tessa Feemster Reflects on Kakehashi Japan Tour

Tessa Feemster and group at SoBA alumnus's restaurant in Japan

"The Kakehashi trip to Japan could only be described as a whirlwind. One night we were enjoying a meal with farmers and community member in a rural mountain village, and the next we were slipping through the crowds and back alleys of Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing. The Kakehashi Project showed us Japan in a nut-shell and left us wanting more.

The Japanese International Cooperation Center (JICE) and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) were excellent hosts, pulling out all the stops to make sure our experience was as enjoyable and immersive as possible.

We started our trip visiting the central government ministries in Tokyo before moving to the prefectural governments and companies in Montana’s sister state of Kumamoto. Guided through Japan by Mrs. Endo (Endo-san), we learned how to respectfully communicate in Japanese business settings by exchanging business cards with two hands and giving gifts at the end of each meeting.

These exchanges prepared us to encourage further U.S.-Japan trade relationships and develop a genuine appreciation for Japanese culture.

In the midst all the government meetings, company tours and cultural visits, I actually found the most memorable part of our journey to be a simple dinner reception. The dinner was held at a German restaurant in the heart of Kumamoto’s main shopping district, owned and operated by a University of Montana SoBA alum. We enjoyed the company of local members of the sister state program, all while eating bratwurst and sauerkraut with chopsticks. Everyone was so friendly and interested in Montana.

Most of the locals we met had even been to Missoula by way of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation. We shared stories of fly fishing conquests and Griz football games, laughing the night away.

We are more alike than we are different, and this trip was a huge reinforcement of that truth. We were only in Japan for eight days, but the experiences we had and friendships we built will stick with us for years to come. Many of us are already planning our trips back."