Japan Lean Study Trip

Next open-enrollment trip: May 12–18, 2019

If you’re ready to take your understanding of operational excellence to the next level, there’s no experience quite like going to the source and learning from Japanese organizations that have been practicing the kaizen philosophy for decades.

Led by Katie Anderson, the Japan Lean Study Trip is a high-value opportunity to go see and learn from passionate leaders in the birthplace the Toyota Production System. Visit their organizations and hear they have developed cultures of respect and improvement in their organizations.

Through your experiences on this study trip, you will discover how Japanese companies succeed in delivering superb quality at the right price, with the short lead-times, while at the same time ensuring high levels of employee and customer satisfaction.

We won’t focus on a single industry or company, but rather on the human factors that have enabled a culture of continuous improvement and respect for people to develop across a variety of organizations.

Be prepared for an intense and fun week of learning, filled with site visits, facilitated discussions, and conversations with Japanese business leaders, 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 how you can use them to deliver better value to your customers.

Check out highlights from the KBJ Anderson led Japan Lean Study Trip from May 2018!

Your Experience Includes

Site Visits

We will visit 5 or more Japanese companies during the program, to walk through their organizations and talk with their leaders about their management philosophies and approaches to continuous improvement, strategy deployment, and people development.

  • See the connection between Toyota and their suppliers
  • Hear from passionate leaders about how they have developed cultures of respect and continuous improvement in their organizations
  • 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
  • Learn how the town of Ashikaga has leveraged 5S as a method of revitalization of people and industry
  • Visit a Nagoya-area elementary school to interact with school children and learn how fundamental concepts of community and regret of waste are valued.

Note: 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, but have intentionally not included it on the formal Japan Lean Study Trip program in order to maximize your opportunity to visit Japanese organizations and talk directly with their leaders. Contact Katie Anderson if you are interested in visiting the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology on Sunday before the program commences.

Lectures + Discussions with Japanese Executives

Learn from Japanese CEOs and senior executives such as:

  • Mr. Isao Yoshino – 40+ year Toyota leader (Japan + U.S.) and John Shook’s first manager
  • Mr. 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
  • Mr. Umemura – Chairman and founder of Mifune, Tier-2 supplier to Toyota

Unique accces to Mr. Isao Yoshino

You will have unique access to Mr. Isao Yoshino, a retired 40-year Toyota executive who helped teach TPS to 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. 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.

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!

Facilitated Discussions Led by Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson, Japan Lean Study Trip organizer and facilitator, 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 Lean coach and consultant who works with individuals and companies around the world.

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.

Travel by Bullet Train

Be thrilled by riding on one of the most advanced rail systems in the world and travel at speeds up to 186 mph (300 kph) on the the bullet train (Shinkansen) from Nagoya to Tokyo. Witness the precision and customer service of the Japanese railway system that is world-famous for its “7-minute miracle” train turnover.

Food + Cultural Experiences

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! On Thursday we will enjoy a relaxing lunch at the Coco Winery in Ashikaga.

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

  • Strolling the halls of the oldest school in Japan
  • Enjoying wisteria (“fuji”) flavored ice cream at a world-famous flower park
  • Experiencing the high tech service of a “Lean sushi” restaurant
  • Interacting with local school children during their lunchtime
  • 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 visit to a local temple in Nagoya
  • Morning jog along the Sumida river
  • Morning visit to the fish market

Consider extending your visit to Japan 

Arrive by Sunday morning in Nagoya and add-on a visit to the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology or the Nagoya Castle. Or arrive a few days earlier and visit the famous temples and shrines of Kyoto or other famous locations in Japan.

Extend your stay in Tokyo and witness the Grand Sumo tournament (held May 12-26), visit famous temples and shrines, take part in a Tokyo food tour, or experience Tokyo nightlife. Katie will provide suggestions for sightseeing and special experiences in Tokyo.

Group Size

20 Participants Maximum

Program Includes

  • Accommodations in Tokyo and Nagoya (6 nights)
  • Breakfast (6 days)
  • Lunch (5 days)
  • Dinner (2 nights)
  • Domestic transportation
  • Host company and expert access
  • Seminars with leaders
  • Entrance, site visit, and speaker fees
  • Travel logistics during program
  • Interpretation services (into English)
  • Facilitated discussions and presentations


Apply now!
$7495 USD

Full Price
$8,995 USD

* You are responsible for your international flights to Japan, your domestic travel and related costs before and after the program, and any meals and experiences outside of the program. You are also responsible for obtaining personal travel and international health insurance.