Katie Anderson's Japan Study Trip Leadership Program


Are You Ready to Amplify Your Leadership Impact?
Embark on the Learning Experience of Your Life with Katie Anderson's Japan Study Trip Leadership Program

If you’ want to accelerate your leadership impact and take your understanding of organizational excellence and lean management to the next level, there’s no experience like immersing yourself in the Japanese kaizen mindset and culture on Katie Anderson’s immersive Japan Study Trip leadership programs.

This leadership development program is more than an incredible week in Japan. Each program is a multi-month program includes pre- and post-trip learning to enrich your knowledge and practice to ensure that you are making the most impact from this investment in your leadership in your work and organization. 

When you join Katie Anderson’s Japan Study Trip leadership program, you get a fully curated experience with insider access to diverse companies and leaders and unique cultural experiences that will revitalize your energy and deepen your knowledge of what it takes to create a successful people-centered culture of continuous improvement, innovation, and excellence. 

Your program is curated and facilitated by internationally recognized leadership consultant and bestselling author Katie Anderson, along with program coordinator and Japan leadership expert Tim Wolput. 

You also get exclusive access to former 40-year Toyota leader Isao Yoshino and other Japanese executives and share the experience an amazing group of like-minded leaders from around the world.

Both individuals and cohorts from the same organization benefit from this immersive learning experience. 


Check out prior participants' testimonials about the impact Katie Anderson's Japan Study Trip leadership program has had on their leadership and organization!

Upcoming Dates & Details 


november 10-16,2024 – sold out –  we are accepting wait list applications only

The programs fill up far in advance, so don’t wait to apply now to invest in your leadership impact.

What’s Included and Itinerary:

Details including what’s included in the program fee and a sample itinerary can be found here.  

Each program is customized and exact program varies by trip date. Check out the October 2023 program summary as an example of the learning themes and experiences.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for more information about the focus of your learning experience.

Who is the Japan Study Trip for?

This program is designed for leaders those responsible for creating high-performing cultures, including:

  • Senior executives and Board Members
  • Operations managers and HR/OD leaders
  • Lean, Agile, DevOps, and operational excellence practitioners
  • Internal or external consultants looking to more deeply understand how they can influence meaningful change
  • Learning enthusiasts interested in the origins of the Toyota Way and Lean practices and Japanese culture.

Don’t mis out on the leadership development experience of a lifetime.

Invest in your leadership impact today and submit your application!

Listen to Patrick and Shawn Talk About Their Experiences Participating in the Japan Study Trip Program

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Focus on people, culture, and leadership

Led by Katie Anderson, internationally recognized leadership consultant, speaker and bestselling author of the award-winning book Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn: Lessons from Toyota Leader Isao Yoshino on a Lifetime of Continuous Learning, executive Japan Study Trip is a high-value opportunity to go see and learn from successful leaders and companies in the birthplace the Toyota Production System. 

Talk with these leaders and see with your own eyes on the floors of their companies how they have developed cultures of respect, customer service, and continuous improvement, how they have applied process innovations and lean production principles, and how they develop people in order to develop excellent products and services.

The primary focus of this experience is PEOPLE and CULTURE, from frontline engagement to senior leaders setting a clear vision and modeling the way, creating a culture of continuous improvement and customer service is all about respect for people and humanity.

Every step of the week, you will discover how Japanese organizations across diverse industries are delivering greater value to customers through service excellence and product delivery, while developing and engaging their people in continuous daily improvement.

Be prepared for an intense and fun week of learning, filled with site visits, facilitated discussions, and conversations with Japanese business leaders including Isao Yoshino, plus plenty of great Japanese food and cultural experiences along the way!

You will come away from this week with a deeper appreciation of the concepts of operational excellence, lean thinking, customer service, and continuous improvement, and tangible takeaways for how you can use them to deliver better value to your customers, engage your team, and improve your own leadership capabilities to create greater impact.

Embark on the learning journey of a lifetime!

Your experience includes

We will visit multiple Japanese companies and organizations during the program, to walk through their processes and talk with their leaders about their management philosophies and approaches to continuous improvement, strategy deployment, and people development. 

While each study tour agenda varies, your experience will likely include some of the following experiences:

  • Visit an elementary school to interact with school children and learn how fundamental concepts of community and regret of waste (“mottainai”) are valued
  • See the connection between top-down (strategy set by leaders through hoshin kanri) and bottom-up (daily kaizen improvements by the front-line) through leadership behaviors and visual management systems
  • Experience the connection between Toyota and their suppliers through pull-systems and just-in-time delivery
  • Visualize how lean production principles such as rapid-changeover (SMED), mistake-proofing, pull, kanban, 5S, one-piece flow, water spiders, standard work, level-loading, and visual management are practiced
  • Witness the precision and customer service of the Japanese railway system that is world-famous for its “7-minute miracle” train turnover
  • Discover how the town of Ashikaga has leveraged 5S and other Lean principles as their method to revitalizing industry AND the human spirit in over 150+ organizations
  • Talk with a female executive of a manufacturing company about her experiences as a female leader in a traditionally male dominated business culture – as well as developing a culture of innovation, joy, and engagement in a factory environment
  • And more still to be developed on the itinerary

You will have unique access to Mr. Isao Yoshino, a retired 40-year Toyota executive who is the subject of Katie Anderson’s internationally bestselling book Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn: Lessons from Toyota Leader Isao Yoshino on a Lifetime of Continuous Learning.

Mr. Yoshino helped teach the Toyota Way principles to leaders at the NUMMI plant, was John Shook’s first manager at Toyota (and was Shook’s model for the manager character “Sanderson” in the book Managing to Learn), and held critical roles in developing Toyota’s people-centered learning culture. Mr. Yoshino will impart his vast knowledge of Toyota management, hoshin kanri, and people development with you through formal lectures and discussion throughout the the program.

Not only will Mr. Yoshino provide some formal lectures and facilitated group discussions, you’ll be able to spend time with Mr. Yoshino in private conversation at meals, on the bus, and at the site visits. This level of access to Mr. Yoshino is not available on any other learning program in Japan!

Learn from Japanese CEOs and senior executives through lectures and discussions. During the program, you will have the opportunity to talk directly with Japanese leaders, and to “go to gemba” with them to see their company’s operations.

Examples of Japanese leaders included in our tours include:

  • Mr. Isao Yoshino – 40+ year Toyota leader (Japan + U.S.) and John Shook’s first manager
  • Mr. Ritsuo Shingo – former Toyota executive, including President of Toyota Hino Motors (China)
  • Mr. Masamoto Amezawa – former Toyota executive, including President of Toyota Kentucky
  • Mr. Hiroshi Tsukakoshi – founder and Chairman of Ina Foods (the company motto is “Happiness is our purpose”) and author of Tree Ring Management
  • Mr. Teruo Yabe – former President of Tessei (Shinkansen cleaning company)
  • Mrs. Noriko Ogura – COO and SVP of Ogura Metal
  • Mr. Yoshinori Kikuchi – President of Kikuchi Gears or another Ashikaga-based company leader
  • Dr. Satoru Komatsumoto, President of Ashikaga Red Cross Hospital
  • Mr. Umemura – Chairman and founder of Mifune, Tier-2 supplier to Toyota
  • Ms. Toshiko Kawanami – Human Resources Consultant
  • And more!

Katie Anderson, Japan Lean Study Trip organizer, will be facilitate discussions throughout the program to deepen your learning experiences.

Katie will share her insights from living in Japan for 18 months and subsequent trips to Japan, as well as as a leadership coach and consultant who has worked with thousands of leaders around the world to develop learning cultures.

We will discuss the challenges that “typical Japanese” companies have in implementing Lean, and how and why Lean isn’t inherently Japanese but rather a management system that has drawn on the best of both Western and Japanese practices.

Mami Takeda, Japan Lean Study Trip coordinator and interpreter, will also provide additional commentary about Japanese culture, kaizen, and Lean thinking as practiced in Japan.

Enjoy authentic, excellent Japanese food and culture as we travel through Tokyo, Nagoya and Ashikaga.

Breakfast and lunch is included during the program, as well as a welcome dinner and celebration dinner!

During the program, we will include opportunities for other cultural and sightseeing experiences that might include:

  • Visiting the “daruma temple” in the town where most daruma dolls are produced in Japan
  • Enjoying Japanese hospitality in a ryokan – relax in the onsen, sing karaoke, and wear a yukata (cotton robe)
  • Experiencing the high tech service of a “Lean sushi” restaurant
  • Tasting sake at a local sake brewery or enjoying wisteria (“fuji”) flavored ice cream at a world-famous flower park
  • Interacting with local school children during their lunchtime at school
  • And more!

Choose to enrich your week with other experiences not included in the formal program

Optional group dinners are a great opportunity to enjoy conversations with other passionate Lean practitioners from around the world, or choose to take the evenings off to explore on your own.

You will also have the opportunity to participate in optional experiences during the week that could include (depends on interest and availability):

  • Early morning walks to local temples and shrines
  • Morning jog along the Sumida river or Tokyo Castle
  • Evening out in Toyko

Consider extending your visit to Japan

Extend your stay and witness the Grand Sumo tournament (held in May in Tokyo), visit famous temples and shrines, take part in a food tour, or experience Tokyo nightlife. We can provide suggestions for sightseeing and special experiences in Tokyo.

Add-on additional learning opportunities

We have developed the program to provide you with access to experiences that you could not get on your own. We highly recommend a visit to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology in Nagoya. If the museum is not included on our itinerary due to other site visits, we highly recommend a visit on Sunday before our program officially starts.


Visit the Japan Study Trip Testimonials page to read detailed quotes and watch video interviews from past trip participants.

Past Trip Highlights

See photos & highlights from past study trips.

May 2019 | May 2018 | Oct 2023

* Your position is only confirmed after your application has been approved and your payment has been received.

Concepts We'll Explore

Respect for People
Understand more deeply what respect for people (“hitozukuri” or the art of developing people) means in Japan and how “respect for people” became one of the two pillars of the Toyota Way codified in 2001. Respect for people is the uniting theme across all the organizations we will visit.

Observe how respect for craftsmanship (“monozukuri” or the art of making things) is pervasive in the Japanese culture. Learn how the teacher (sensei) and apprentice (deshi) relationship is essential to developing skills – and developing people.

Understand how respect for learning and reflection is fundamental to Toyota’s success. Discover how Japanese children learn through visiting a local elementary school.

Precision and Kata
Ride on the Shinkansen (bullet train) between Nagoya and Tokyo and be awed by the Japanese focus on precision. This deliberate focus on precision can be seen in the kata (routines) in everyday life, from tea ceremonies to how business cards are exchanged. Learn how precision is an important part of standard work and continuous improvement.

Regret of Waste
Appreciate how the concept of “mottainai” (regret for waste) is a deeply held Japanese cultural value, taught at an early age to children, and how elimination of waste is an essential component of the Toyota Production System and Lean thinking.

Continuous Improvement
Learn how continuous improvement (“kaizen”), the second pillar of the Toyota Way, is incorporated into the daily work of every employee, and the leader’s role in supporting daily improvement. Kaizen is not a “project”, but rather the small ideas that make the organization work a little bit better every day.

See, through multiple site visits and observations of daily life, how Lean principles support and encourage people’s creativity for improvement – and how concepts of joy and fun can be brought into business and factory environments.

Hear how organizations use Lean concepts to improve their business operations and how their mindsets are focused on doing good for their broader community. Learn how one town in Japan has used Lean practices as a strategy to revitalize their community.

Hospitality and Customer Service
Experience the Japanese concept of “omotenashi” (the Japanese term for hospitality and customer service) in everyday interactions. Understand how the concept of service is linked with kaizen to demonstrate respect for customers – and employees.

Organization and Cleanliness
Be amazed at the organization, tidiness, and cleanliness of Tokyo and other Japanese cities. Learn how respect for organization facilitates Lean practices such as 5S, but in no way ensures that 5S is easy!



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