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Words from a Social Innovation Entrepreneur

ソーシャル・イノベーション・アントレプレナーからのメッセージ

Why is your participation important?

Soon after the pandemic ended, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto were immediately jam-packed with in-bound travelers.

Overtourism aside, peering through the glamorous tourist destinations, the country in reality is facing serious declining population and stagnant economy.  The impact on labor work force, economy, medical  insurance and pension system is significant.  While resources and investments continue to centralize in urban area, rural communities are in much need for new channels to be energized (and to survive).

2020 (2021)年の東京オリンピックを控え、日本に注目が集まっています。東京に旅行したいと思っている方もいることでしょう。輝かしい大都市とは裏腹に、地方は深刻な人口減少問題に直面しています。労働力、経済、医療、保健への影響は計り知れません。人的資源や投資は都市部に集中し続けており、地方はエネルギーとなる(そして生き残るための)新たな活路を必要としています。

SOCIAL CHALLENGE

Japan's population has been in decline for 10 years straight.  By 2060, Japan's population over the age of 65 is projected to be at 40%.* Population in rural areas continues to age and decline, resulting in abandoned properties. Many buildings are in poor and unsafe condition, creating burdens for local governments to monitor and/or demolish them. Age-ing population resulted in many rural towns’ decline, with town infrastructure deteriorating due to lack of investments and community activities.  

*Department of Population Dynamics Research, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research."Population Projections for Japan (January 2012): 2011 to 2060"

地方都市の人口は高齢化が進み減少し、結果として放置される土地ができます。都市に暮らし働いている若い家族は固定資産税が経済的に重荷になり土地の相続を望みません。多くの建物は朽ち果て、危険な状況になり、地方自治体の管理、撤去対象となり重荷になります。

街が減少し歴史的価値のある建物も保管費用がまかなえず、修復や再利用の機械が中々得られません。現在多くの地方自治体で重要文化財、指定文化財などの認定を受け保存していく費用をまかない、また多くの旅行者に訪問してもらい町を活性化していく努力をしています。

 

日本は歴史と工芸文化にあふれています。多くの伝統的なものづくり文化は都市ではなく地方で発達しておりますが、若い人へのニーズがなく衰退してきています。また、少子高齢化により人口が減り、投資が減り、地方のインフラも減少しています。

若い世代へ向けて政府が行っている誘致活動の中にいつくか足りない部分があると考えます。
-  地方に住みたいが、やりたい/やれる仕事がない

-  生計を立てる方法がわからない
-  社会との繋がり、仲間がいない
-  インフラの減少 (学校施設病院、介護 など…)

VALUE OF CRAFT in 21st CENTURY

While craft industries lack young successors, fortunately in some craft towns, we still see young artisans running family craft businesses and few young apprentices are still dedicating their time in building their life-long careers in the craft world.

Traditional craft in Japan is a discipline of mastering tools and material knowledge, perfecting skills and techniques; though some of the deliverables no longer meet modern lifestyle's needs and taste.  The hand-made process also makes it difficult to meet the demands for any large quantity commercial order.  The market is becoming niche or even obsolete.

いくつかの地方都市では若い職人と(稼業の伝統と仕事を引き継ぐ)職人見習いが伝統技術を引き継ぎ生涯の仕事として修行しています。

日本の伝統工芸は完璧な技術と技を駆使していますが、現在のモダンなライフスタイルの中では必要とされない場合もあります。また、手作り作品の制作工程を考えると大量生産のニーズや商業的な目的では難しい場合があります。その為マーケットは益々縮小しています。

 

Do you know what you are bringing to Kyoto?

Within 4 months of the reopening of Japan to foreign tourists, in-bound travelers bounds back to 96% of pre-pandemic times, bringing much needed economic stimulation to the country.  And immediately, reports on over-tourism in Kyoto and Tokyo resurfaced.  Lives of local residents are being disrupted, as well as negative impacts in many popular natural heritage sites.

Be a responsible traveler.  Consider what you are bringing to the places you visit. 

japan craft travel handmade

Industrialization has trained us to consume, discard and consume more.  We are now facing the environmental and socio-economical impact that our desire for cheap, mass-produced product has brought. This is the moment to assess the price-paid for labor exploitation and cost efficiency.  Be aware of our consumption behavior, learn the integrity, quality and life cycle of goods through forgotten slow-crafts and artisanship. Be an educated consumer: understand the context of commodity, know the impact of your consumption to the local community and the environment. Respect quality goods that last.  

Pandemic learning 1

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Travel responsibly

Industrialization has trained us to consume, discard and consume more.  We are now facing the environmental and socio-economical impact that our desire for cheap, mass-produced product has brought. This is the moment to assess the price-paid for labor exploitation and cost efficiency.  Be aware of our consumption behavior, learn the integrity, quality and life cycle of goods through forgotten slow-crafts and artisanship. Be an educated consumer: understand the context of commodity, know the impact of your consumption to the local community and the environment. Respect quality goods that last.  

Pandemic learning 1

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Japan's international visitors dropped as much as 98% during COVID19. Regardless, Japan ranks No.1 as a destination travelers would want to visit after the pandemic.  While we will be rebuilding a collapsed tourist industry, let's also re-evaluate: Shall we return to clustering and unsustainable practices or instead look deeper into what impact global travel and consumption brings?  How can we distribute investment and ensure support reaches the neglected regions? 

 

Be an educated culture traveler. Your choice of destinations and activities can drive positive impact. 

Consume responsibly

Pandemic learning 2

Craft + Rural Revitalization? 

課題

Most modern-day commodity is about mass-production and low-cost, unsustainable practices.  It's time for us to re-evaluate the value of hand-made production by understanding the discipline and

the hands behind the craft. 

While we attempt to revive and re-energize many "forgotten" craft towns, we also aim to provide global visitors remarkable tactile experiences, with renewed appreciation for hand-made items.

Just bring curiosity and respect, and join the new movement.

現代のほとんどの商品が、安価で持続が難しい大量生産によって作られたものです。今こそ、工芸にかかわる人たちや修練について理解し、手工芸の価値を再確認する時が来ています。

 

多くの「忘れられた」工芸の町を復興させるよう働きかける一方で、世界中の旅じnに向けて素晴らしい旅行体験を提供し、手工芸について詳しくなって帰ってもらうことも目的としています。

 

好奇心と尊重する心を持って、この動きにぜひ参加してみてください。

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