I am from Houston, Texas in the USA and I majored in mechanical engineering. Since graduating from university, I have worked as a product design engineer in a couple of different companies. One of the companies that I worked in was a Japanese company that produced precision components for manufacturing different products. At this company, I learned a lot about design since I had to talk to a lot of people from different industries and it was there that I started to really get interested in Japanese design in particular. With that interest in mind, I came to Japan to do an internship at a design firm. My main job was to help out with the various design activities in whatever way I could. The company uses AutoDesk programs to complete their design tasks. For the renderings and perspectives, they use 3ds Max which is a modeling program that I had never used before. After learning the rudiments of this program and learning to read some useful kanji, I was able to create some 3D models for the other designers to use in their scene creation. I also helped create rough sketches in AutoCad of the customer's space for proposed design specifications. Besides these types of engineering activities, I also helped choose items for the companies showcase/marketing advert. It was a fun experience to go to countless web pages looking at many interesting design ideas. The company has a large library of interesting design books that I looked through in my spare time. Between this and the time spent talking to my coworkers in the ways that American working culture differs from Japanese culture, I did a bit of translation of some of the interesting or relevant portions that I found. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I would definitely go back to there to gain more experience in Japanese design.
I made an internship at Hakozaki in Fukuoka. There I could experience the work of a Miko, and I could also wear the clothes of a Miko. To learn how to put them on and how to bind the knots took me a few days. I worked eight hours a day, six days a week. My tasks included selling amulets, and folding fortune slips, flyers etc. Twice a day all the Miko had to do cleaning, which mainly includes sweeping, vacuum-cleaning and wiping. Once a week a flower arrangement and tea ceremony teacher came, so I also had the opportunity to experience Ikebana and tea ceremony. As there is a big shrine festival coming up in September, the Miko were busy with painting Chanpons. I helped them and learned how to paint flowers on a Chanpon, which was more difficult than expected. While doing the work of a Miko I experienced the everyday life at a shrine as well. I saw a lot of bridal pairs taking photos in front of the shrine. There were also a lot of expectant mothers or mothers with young children requesting a blessing ceremony for their child. I also experienced the manners amongst colleagues. This includes the strict Senpai-Kohai system among the Miko and the attitude towards the male employees. But all the Miko were young and had a very good relationship to each other. Overall it was a very valuable experience to do an internship at a shrine. I learned a lot about traditional Japanese culture, the importance of a shrine for the Japanese people, and manners of working in Japan.
My internship took place at the fashion company in Fukuoka. The focus of the firmlies on order-made dresses for special purposes like weddings or music videos as well aslimited lines of clothes for selected shops. Quantize has also a few of its own shops running in the area which are selling smaller goods like t-shirts and accessories. My main field of work was concerned with writing a blog for the company as well as partially translating it from Japanese to English. I also served as a photographer on several occasion to document certain events. The other task assigned to me consisted of getting in touch with German shops and assisting the staff in establishing trade with them. The company has the aim of selling selected products in Europe and especially Germany, therefore my German-skills came very much inhandy. The people at the company were very nice and everyone gladly helped me when language problems arose. Moreover, I was able to attend several client meetings and photo-shootings,which gave me a precious insight in Japanese business-culture. The working hours were fairly flexible usually being based on previously made appointments. In general I worked about 3 times a week for 7 hours each. All in all it was a very pleasant and interesting experience, which gave me a better understanding of not only the fashion-industry, but Japan in general.