ENC SPOTLIGHT: TAKESHI MARUSAWA



In honor of what would have been the 2020 Olympic Games, we share an inspiring story all the way from Tokyo, Japan!

Most specifically Saitama, a prefecture of Tokyo where the basketball event have taken place.

Saitama-a robust city with beautiful landscapes, clean streets, and polite pedestrians houses some of the world's leading entrepreneurs, creatives and innovators.


Takeshi Marusawa is one of those visionaries who believes the largest opportunity is here in Saitama is by making their green tea go global.


Saitama green tea is known as one of the best tasting green teas in the world. By location, Saitama’s natural landscape creates a one of a kind green tea leaf much thicker than other green teas. This thick leaf creates a unique flavor that cannot be produced anywhere else.


Mr. Marusawa, a former Toyota executive, is no stranger to business and opportunity.

At Toyota, Mr. Marusawa led in international and overseas business, production and operational planning in countries like Belgium, Italy, Turkey, and Singapore.


Now as CEO of the Sayama Green Tea School, we had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Marusawa about the wisdom of opportunity, business principles that are vital to his success and how to balance life while embracing possibilities.



What are the business principles you learned as a Toyota executive that you still use to this day?


Most of the work I did at Toyota, my time was spent in overseas operations which I liked and now I am learning Japanese business based on my tea business.


Yet and still, the three business principles that have helped me in business are the Kaizen principle, Genchi Genbutsu and the core value of challenge which I still use today.




About Kaizen and Genchi Genbutsu


The Kaizen principle is a Japanese management philosophy that literally translates to 'continuous (Kay) improvement (zen)'. The method helps the productivity of one organization to improve. It does that by taking simple steps that lead to improvements. Working according to this principle never stops.


Genchi Genbutsu is the Japanese principle of going to and directly observing a location and its conditions in order to understand and solve any problems faster and more effectively. The phrase literally translated means “go and see for yourself” and is a part of the Toyota Way philosophy.


(source: Wikipedia)


When I speak of challenge, I mean to explore something new and try to do something new. Sometimes that means risk-taking during the hard times. I always feel that even when I am struggling with a very difficult time, I need to continue and hold on until I find some brighter moments. This is what I mean by the principle of challenge.


An example of one of these principles in the green tea business is my use of the Kaizen principle where I reviewed last year’s performance and offerings in terms of customer satisfaction looking to improve our performance from past learning.



How did you uncover the opportunity and need in starting the Sayama Green Tea School?


Saitama green tea is one of the very best products locally in Saitama. Local people know about Saitama tea. But in other regions like where I am from and even the Northern regions of Japan, they do not know about Saitama green tea.


And locally, people are drinking less green tea.


And so the producers have been struggling with production.


This leads to low productions.


I believe I can help tea farmers with increasing production.


One approach is to invite new customers and potential customers alike from anywhere in the world and make a school to offer customers an experience.



What is the cultural impact of green tea in Japan?


Originally green tea was imported from China a long time ago.


Japan followed the green tea trend.


When it was imported from China, it was simultaneously connected with the Zen Religion.


Green tea has been growing together with Zen culture.


Meditation is a Zen principle and this principle with green tea works hand in hand.


Did you know?


During a Traditional Tea Ceremony, modern experts who studied the tea ceremony claim that both sides of the brain are stimulated when participating in the practice.


The brain activity from both sides helps bring a deep calm and eventually, spiritual consciousness.


In ancient times, Buddhist monks designed the tea ceremony to directly work to affect all five senses, to wake up the person both physically and spiritually. The double nature of the ritual brings a feeling of deep inner peace and tranquility by bringing the mind and body together.


(source: KCP International)


How do you maintain a work-life balance?


I think this is a common problem for most people.


I am a freelancer in the sense I have my own companies.


So I do have a sense of freedom to manage: when I work, when I go to the gym, and when I go to the Green Tea School.


I can manage my time.


Because my wife works in the city (Tokyo) on weekdays, she has a 1 to 1 1/2 hour commute, so during the week she is concentrated on her work.


So, I lead in the housework during this time.


And since I run companies, my job doesn’t end on the weekends, for me even if it’s Saturday or Monday, there is no difference.


So on the weekend, my wife manages the housework.


It is about responsibility allocation.


So that is how I find balance in work and family life.


Each family has to create rules that work for their lifestyle.



What is your advice to future entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders; in turn, giving them wisdom on embracing possibilities?


Today, future leaders have much more information than I did in my younger years.

There are many outlets of information and many opportunities for choosing a line of work.


For the next generation, they have to have some habits to find out what the fundamental issues are and what is important.


You need to look for the main issues so otherwise, you will lose your way.


You will lose what you want to do, you will lose where you want to go.


Dreams are important but beyond dreams, you must have habits to uncover what is important.


You must keep in practice of having good eyes, good ears, a good mind, and a good mouth. This is called training your senses. After training your senses, you have to have belief in what you want and then take action.


There will be much information that comes to you and many opinions and perspectives.


But if you listen and follow them all from friends, relatives, third parties, etc., you will find yourself later on losing where you were going.


Sometimes it is helpful to hear third party opinions.


But to me in my experience; if you have ten problems, maybe 2 problems third parties can solve. And the remaining 8 of those problems, their opinions are meaningless.

One Opinion that is Tried and True

Mr. Marusawa’s Sayama Green Tea won’t disappoint in the possibilities of offering Olympic visitors a full Japanese experience immersed in green tea culture. Sayama Green Tea School is the place that visitors from all over the world will never forget.


Its tranquil landscapes embodied with Zen culture makes the Sayama Green Tea School a spiritual place. It is a place like many places in Saitama to uplift the senses and the soul. And when you leave, you are only craving to get back to that sense of peace in Saitama. The great thing about Saitama is that can you get a piece of it through it's green tea.


A tea that is one of a kind and the best in the world.


For more information about Sayama Green Tea and how you can schedule your visit at the Sayama Green Tea, visit them online.



Follow: Sayama Green Tea


Connect with Takeshi Marusawa

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