Interview
2019.09.27

Create a margin for town development.“NIHONBASHI MEGURU FES” is being held to update the town through new collaboration.

Create a margin for town development.“NIHONBASHI MEGURU FES” is being held to update the town through new collaboration.

“COREDO Muromachi Terrace” opened on September 27th. Coinciding with this date, the “NIHONBASHI MEGURU FES” will be held in Nihonbashi for approximately two months. This event will be held for the first time, with a wide variety of players including local companies and creators participating. We asked creative director, Mr. Koichiro Toda (CC, Inc.), Mr. Daisuke Sasaki (Bascule Inc.), the event planner, and Ms. Aya Sakamoto (Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd.) about the background story behind this event.

Thinking about how the city should be in the future with OPEN / CHALLENGE / COLLABORATION as keywords.

-First of all, please tell us about the background behind planning for this “MEGURU NIHONBASHI FES” event.

Sakamoto: Nihonbashi has been undergoing extensive redevelopment for about 15 years, but the development of “COREDO Muromachi Terrace” has settled down.  Also, in this city that will demonstrate further excitement towards the Tokyo Olympics a year from now, so we thought that now is the turning point for starting new urban development.

So, at this time, we would like to re-examine the allure of Nihonbashi from a new perspective and make efforts to strengthen communication skills.  So, I got to know Mr. Toda and consulted about the direction for the plan.

In addition, Mr. Sasaki, who has been working with “nihonbashi β”, which has been active since last year, was involved in the implementation and communication of the plan.

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Aya Sakamoto from the Nihonbashi Town Planning Promotion Department of Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd., who serves as the secretariat of “NIHONBASHI MEGURU FES”.

Toda: After hearing about this plan, I first studied the city of Nihonbashi, but there is a lot of information behind the history of Nihonbashi.  At first, I honestly thought that it was already “a heavy burden” at this stage (laughs). Unlike normal advertising campaigns, it is not merely considering about how to sell a product, but there is a need to determine the direction of the entire event based on a holistic perspective of the city. So firstly, I spent time summarizing the various aspects of history and information, including about those who lived in and were involved with Nihonbashi.

-In the process of narrowing down the plan, how did you start at the beginning?

Sakamoto: The keywords we considered important in the Nihonbashi project were “OPEN”, “CHALLENGE” and “COLLABORATION”. First, I wanted to incorporate these perspectives as a structure.

-May I ask you about the details regarding these three keywords?

Sakamoto: First, “OPEN” means creating a gap or a margin in the city to express “a city with a place to enter”.  It may appear to be like a conservative city with a high threshold, but the people in the city are also very tolerant of new things. So, I wanted like various people to enter Nihonbashi and become “the protagonist of the city”.

And “CHALLENGE”. It is an attitude to always try new things. Nihonbashi is firmly rooted in the idea of ​​“long-established stores that continue to challenge”.  I thought that was the aspect that should still be carried over.

The third is “COLLABORATION”. Nihonbashi has a strong culture and history that no other city has, and it can give rise to a conservative image, but it is undoubtedly personal and attractive.  Through the collaboration of these unique assets and new elements, I thought there would be an original Nihonabshi-way to transmit.

Toda: Upon listening to the story of these keywords and the city planning activities that have been promoted up to now, we started to consider people’s thoughts about city planning and “how to communicate” ideas on how the city should be in the future.

Based on what we have done so far, it is our job to articulate in words the vision of future developments and make it visible. In the case of this project, through visualization, I was hoping to establish the axes and guidelines for the activities of everyone involved in the city development project.

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Mr. Koichiro Toda, creative director of “NIHONBASHI MEGURU FES”. After working for Dentsu Inc., established CC Inc. in January 2017 and became independent. He has worked extensively on brand development and general advertising.

-Did you find it difficult as you think about the project?

Toda: While referring to it as “city planning” in a few words, the more you learn about it, one sees the multiple categories of people involved and the length of the timeframe, and such complexity is not seen elsewhere. This is the difficulty unique to town planning.

So, I was conscious of taking a broader view than usual.  However, since there is only one direction to proceed, the key is how to find it.  I felt that it was more important to share the process than the results, so I spent some time with discussions.

-I understand that you have been involved with Nihonbashi for several years. What are your thoughts about the city?

Sasaki: I believe the question of, how to set “expectations” for Nihonbashi of the future? is an important issue for future city planning and information dissemination.  I think the keywords “OPEN”, “CHALLENGE”, and “COLLABORATION” that Ms. Sakamoto mentioned earlier are also keywords in setting expectations for the city. I am highly aware of the Nihonbashi

co-creation project, “nihonbashi β” that started last year with young creators.

I feel that Nihonbashi is an interesting and creative city that is rich with physical things and intangibles that we want pass-down to the future generation. However, the image of a high threshold is dominant, making it a distant city for young creators. Even within the same city of Tokyo, for example, Shibuya and Roppongi illicit expectations of opportunities as “a place to be active” and “a place to establish relationships”, but Nihonbashi has been slightly left behind.

I think it is a shame that it has become difficult for creators to set expectations, even though there are many creative aspects that cannot be found in other cities. Therefore, we launched the Nihonbashi β, a co-creation project that offers young creators with creative opportunities in Nihonbashi and updates various city assets. As Nihonbashi has acquired the image of being a completely developed city, in the hopes of making the city a more open place where new challenges are born, we intentionally named the project “β (beta)” meaning “incomplete”.

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Mr. Daisuke Sasaki of Bascule Co., Ltd., involved in this co-creation project, “NIHONBASHI β”, that creates the future of Nihonbashi with young creators.

The power of “visualization” to clarify the direction of the project.

-What role assignments did you have in promoting specific projects this time?

Sakamoto: Mr. Toda built the framework for the event's slogan and key visuals, and Mr. Sasaki was responsible for specific content creation and communication planning using the “nihonbashi β” scheme.

Toda: First, the words “JAPAN COLLABORATION NIHONBASHI” were applied as a slogan to support future urban development.

Nihonbashi is a city where a new culture is born through the exchange of people and things.  Also, there are areas with different personalities, which are mixed together to create their own charm and vitality.  And above all, there is a landmark called “Nihonbashi”.  I thought the bridge was a symbol of collaboration.

-That is where this visual was born.

Toda: Yes. By placing two impressive colors in a white space and drawing a semicircle, a bridge shape is created in the white margin. The place where the two arcs intersect was created with the meaning of where two different values ​​meet.

However, this is just merely visualization and articulation of what everyone had done, it was not a new creation build from scratch. Through multiple discussions and based on such processes, it became a combination of things that were originally important.

As we create a new city in the future, I hope that it will become a mark that people in the city can see, and after listening to the meaning and explanation of the mark, it would be fortunate if people are provoked in to thinking to themselves "I would like to participate city development."

190802_nihonbashi_M3_noren-logo-color_matome++

The key visual for “JAPAN COLLABORATION NIHONBASHI” designed by Mr. Toda. It is a signpost indicating the direction of future city planning.

Sasaki: After this idea was presented by Mr.Toda at an early stage of the project, the guidelines for planning the content became clear, and it became an emblem that raised a sense of unity and motivation among the project members.

-How was the name "NIHONBASHI MEGURU FES" born?

Toda: When things get decided, they are decided right away, but until reaching that point, there were a lot of discussions.

Sakamoto: Proposals were submitted many times. Everyone saw it each time, and discussions were held.

-How did the word “circulate” emerge from the discussions?

Sakamoto: While thinking about a slogan for the city, the idea of ​​“Becoming the heart of Japan” was proposed.

A city with both receptive and disseminating characteristics, a city with a structure where a river flows with vitality, a composition of differing attractions combining, can be considered as the right and left atrium- in describing these concepts, the word “heart” comes to life as a metaphor.  This plan was not adopted for various reasons, but the word “circulation of vitality” came about from these discussions.

Toda: That is right. After the discussions, there was an inclination to propose a plan using the word “circulate”. Although it was not adopted, output is often derived through the process of such discussions. Actually, the base red and blue colors used in the key visuals for “JAPAN COLLABORATION NIHONBASHI” were used being conscious of arteries and veins.

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The key visual for NIHONBASHI MEGURU FES.

-The key visual for MEGURU FES is also wonderful. How was that derived?

Toda: The key visual has the motif of “Kidai Shoran”, which is very important in Nihonbashi. Although it was not clearly presented as the city's objective, there were instances where it came up towards the end of conversations.

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A section of the picture scroll “Kidai Shoran” depicting Nihonbashi in the Edo period. In addition to the bustle of the city, people's facial expressions and warm emblems were drawn, so it was possible to understand the details of the city at that time. (Berlin National Museum of Asian Art Photo AMF / DNPartcom / c bpk / Museum fur Asiatische Kunst, SMB / Jurgen Liepe)

Sakamoto: That is right. There is an image of a place to return to, and it is a motif that comes up often in discussions.

Toda: It is not part of the core, but what comes up at the end of conversations often creates a path. That is exactly what happened this time with “Kidai Shoran”. As it often came up in conversations, I was curious and looked at the replica, and it is was very good. I wanted to take advantage of this.

While participating in this project, I felt that my role was not to create something from scratch, but to connect to an ensuing element by using something. When I reconsidered and looked at the “Kyodai Shoran” again, I felt that it was exactly what the event was about.

So, I decided to use the “Kyodai Shoran” and wanted to remove the color.  To use it as a visual, I wanted to take the finished product and restore it to a colorless state and make it conceptual by using silver rather than black and white.

Sakamoto: This key visual was determined in an instant.  The moment Mr. Toda made the suggestion, it was like “This is it!” and I remember the decision was unanimous.

Sasaki: “Kyodai Shoran” is an important picture scroll that depicts the bustle of Nihonbashi at that time, and the goal of the city is to restore the bustle of this time. However, I felt that the direction became clear such that we should aim for something that is not just merely a reproduction, but a lively rebirth in a way unique to this era.

Toda: The “Kyodai Shoran” depicts in detail Nihonbashi at the time, and up-close, it is possible to see the people's expressions and what they are doing. The information is also very accurate. After that, how beautiful and conceptual it is presented becomes important for the designer, and I was desperately thinking about how to use old concepts through modern updates.

We prepared a platform to increase the participation of city players, and created a challenge.

-We you concious about “updating old things that have been passed down” with regards to the event contents?

Sasaki: Yes, this is right. Nihonbashi is a city with a great history called Edo, so the image tends to be pulled towards the past. At the same time, it would have created an image that is unlikely to lead to expectations for the future of the city, such as concepts of closedness, conservative, and exclusive, which are the exact opposite of the three keywords we are aiming for.

In order to dispel such recognition, the activity of “nihonbashiβ” represents a project that updates the assets of Nihonbashi carried forward for a long time, and the event content of “MEGURU FES” follows that idea and is unique to Nihonbashi. The key concept of the plan is to update various assets through collaboration.

-Could you tell us about the main contents of the event, “Meguru Noren (Goodwill) Exhibition”?

Sasaki: At the “Future Noren Exhibition”, which was implemented as a “nihonbashiβ” project last year, we created goodwill with new experiences by combining cutting-edge technologies. This effort, which was realized through the co-creation of young creators and famous Nihonbashi stores, was widely covered by the media.

In response, the content of “Meguru Noren Exhibition” is based on the theme of developing goodwill in the city on a larger scale with more companies and creators. Aiming to recreate the bustle of “Kyodai Shoran”, a large-scale exhibition event presenting original goodwill works by companies representing Nihonbashi, prominent creators of various industries, and young creators selected through public recruitment over a length of approximately 160 m.

Like the word “protect goodwill,” goodwill is a symbol of long-established stores and has the image of something you should not interfere with. I thought that: Would it be possible to send the message of “wanting to more open” representing Nihonbashi's town planning, in a more compelling way by deliberately targeting such high-end material?

Sakamoto: The reason why we treat goodwill as a motif is that it has the function of “welcoming”. “MEGURU FES” will be held when COREDO Muromachi Terrace opens. There will be many people who have never been to Nihonbashi until this time.

So, I wanted to greet such customers throughout the city of Nihonbashi with a “Welcome!”. For this reason, I thought it would be very nice to use goodwill as a motif that represents Nihonbashi and expresses hospitality.

The “Meguru Noren Exhibition” is held in the underground walkway of Mitsukoshi-mae Station, which is also the entrance to the Muromachi / Nihonbashi area, and the COREDO Muromachi Terrace underground walkway.

-This is a project truly involves a lot of people, but was that point consciously planned?

Sakamoto: Yes, that is right. Last year, when I was studying “nihonbashi β” with Mr. Sasaki and others, the starting point was “How can the city increase its ability to communicate?” Among them, it is important to “increase the number of actors that can serve as sources”.

Shibuya is a good example. Companies, stores, and people are actively working on their own, creating a city image and communication power.

Nihonbashi until now, was a city with long-established people acting as a source of information. Although the long-established stores have the power to communicate and influence, I thought that if I could have Nihonbashi companies participate, I would be able to expand the range of communication.

Sasaki: I think that those with Nihonbashi companies are very proud of working in Nihonbashi. I felt like goodwill was an interesting format as an interface for Nihonbashi companies to express their identity and connect with the city and visitors. In addition, I thought that it would be an opportunity to challenge liberal corporate expression, which is difficult with normal goodwill, under the excuse that the event was for a limited time.

Toda: Looking at the attitudes of everyone participating in this Noren exhibition, I felt that Nihonbashi has a culture that is trying to change its history while taking on challenges. Instead of just keeping what has been done so far, we are actively trying to update because we have to seek challenges in order to stay relevant. I also learned that cherishing change is the reason why the city can remain to exist.

Event content keywords,"Collaboration" and "Update"

-I would like to hear about other event contents. Could you talk about the installation "monsho -mon terrace-" that will be deployed in the open space of Coredo Muromachi Terrace?

Sasaki: Monsho-mon terrace-is an installation that combines a Japanese traditional expression method, "mon" (crest), and laser projection, the most advanced technology. The collaboration between Monsho Uwaeshi, Mr. Hatoba Shoryu and Youji, laser artist MES, and Bascule seeks to create a new entertainment expression of the “mon”.

When talking to Mr. Hatoba, what I focused on was the technique and process for making crests. The crest is made only by combining straight lines and circles. I was surprised by the fact that a lot of crests were created with very minimal techniques, and I thought the process itself was very interesting.

So, as I wanted to consider a method that could make this process look impressive, I spoke to the laser artist MES. As a result, we arrived at a proposal for this content that directs the crest production process using laser and projection.

Sakamoto: The Hatoba father and son have a very traditional job of creating crests, but they also actively enjoyed collaboration and new challenges. I think the contrast between the old and new technology is very interesting.

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Monmon -mon terrace- will appear in the COREDO Muromachi Terrace Large Roof Plaza from October 22 (Tue) to October 31 (Thu).

-“Nihonbashi Light Cruise”is content that adds new technology to “Shoun” (boating), which has long been in Nihonbashi.

Sasaki: At first, it did not seem like young people enjoyed “boating”, and there was an old-fashioned impression. However, when I actually got on it, I was surprised that the experience of viewing the city of Tokyo from the water surface and going under bridges was very unusual and entertaining.

I hoped that I could take the opportunity to learn about its value, and sought for an experience that would amplify the fun that boat transport originally had. Introducing a system that changes lighting and sound in conjunction with location information, so that one can enjoy light and sound on board. I would be grateful if you get to know the charm of the waterside and boats in Tokyo.

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“Nihonbashi Light Cruise”, which offers a night view of Tokyo from a different perspective with lights and sound on board, will operate from October 11 (Fri) to November 20 (Wed).

“Margins” are necessary to create a new city.I want various people from the gaps to participate.

-Finally, what message do you want to send through MEGURU FES?

Toda: This “MEGURU FES” is not the end of implementation, but is the starting point for new urban development. In creating “MEGURU FES” through discussion this time, I felt that “margins” are important for Nihonbashi city planning. Margins for collaboration and updates. By not cramming in too much, Nihonbashi seems to produce good things.

Sakamoto: I think “margins” is an important keyword for creating a city in Nihonbashi, in the sense that we want to create space to enter the city and open the city. I think that creating an open place and a place with a margin will lead to an increase in new communities and protagonists for city planning.

As the number of people entering the margin increases, it will lead to strengthening of the city’s transmission power city and further increase the city's metabolism for change. I would be glad if "MEGURU FES" becomes the trigger for the involvement of lots of people.

Sasaki: The “Future Noren Exhibition” last year was a project that was conscious of creating a space for collaboration with the city. This year, we were able to expand the margin further and create a place for more companies and creators to be involved with the city. I think that the fact that Nihonbashi's margin look very attractive to many players, has led to the growth of content in a year. It is a little quick, but I would be happy if we can create a place where we can engage with more people next year.

Interview / text: Kei Furuta (Konel) Photo: Daisuke Okamura

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