02 Kaneyama Town
The Area Session was held at the Town Hall, and the passionate discussion was streamed online.
The first area session of the 2023 Yamagata Youth Summit was held in Kanayama Town on November 17th. Kanayama Town is a beautiful forest town known for its "Kanayama Cedar." Since the early 1980s, they have been carrying out the "100 Years of Townscape (Landscape) Creation Campaign," in which residents and the government have worked together to promote Kanayama housing, improve waterways, and create townscapes that harmonize with nature. Starting in 2021, 35 years after its implementation, Kaneyama will be moving forward with a dynamic plan aimed at developing the next generation of leaders as the second stage of the 100-year movement.
The session titled "Kaneyama Town's 100-Year Plan" brought together a variety of panelists, including advisor Akira Kurokawa, who is a renowned architect. How can we make use of the assets built by our predecessors in the second stage, and how can young people do what they want to do in their communities? What is the appeal of Kanayama Town from the perspective of video creators and high school students? In response to these questions, each of the panelists gave their heartfelt opinion.
The common denominator that became clear through the discussion was that the driving force behind starting something new was a sense of "fondness" and "good." A desire to try something new and curiosity continues to lead the way. One idea that came up was that "People who start something are not restricted by location. They can do it anywhere. First, it is important that you find something interesting and from there give it a try."
Kanayama Town attracts tourists with its unique landscape that has been shaped by the thoughtfulness of its residents. Mayor Eiji Sato gave a welcome speech.
Advisor Akira Kurokawa says, "Kanayama Town's landscape is not limited to the famous "Kanayama Residence". it is wonderful that we pursue harmony with nature, and maintain traditions such as our waterways."
In addition to his construction business, Kyohei Kawasaki has opened a select shop and cafe in the town. "We need to educate the next generation to appreciate what our predecessors have accumulated, such as the scenery of Kanayama."
Hikaru Niizeki, who has been in business for two years, said, "I really hate it when people think that their hometown has nothing to offer." To learn more about what people thought about their hometowns, he visited 300 people around the country and listened to their stories to learn about local activities.
"Kanayama Town has the power to make creators want to take pictures," says Yui Mendoza. He shot a short film in Kanayama Town, that won an award at a Singapore film festival.
Tsubasa Kikuchi talked about the background and motivation behind his events and works, including a rap video set in Hijiori Onsen and a music festival set in a quarry in Takahata Town.
High school student Shinpei Matsuda explained that through the activities of the community exploration circle, he was able to notice many good things about his hometown, such as how people greet each other properly.
Tonami Jinushi who also attends a local high school, said "I don't particularly like or dislike my hometown, but I like climbing mountains and fishing, so it's very nice to have that as part of where I live."
Ken Miura served as a facilitator. He seemed to be inspired by the stories of the young panelists, who were full of love for the region, saying, "I'm starting to see what needs to be done."
If more people enjoy doing things that they find interesting, this will add to the appeal of the region. Through this discussion, everyone could feel the hidden potential of the town looming on the horizon.
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Regional Forum Area Session
～Harnessing Time for Local Branding～
PanelistTurbine Blue Representative
Hikaru Niizeki was born in Yamagata City, graduated from Yamagata Higashi High School and Yamagata University, and is currently in his second year as a sole proprietor. Niizeki is involved in launching new businesses within the prefecture, mainly in the restaurant management (BAR), accommodation facility management, and regional coordination industries. Opened in October 2022, the company name, "Turbine Blue", takes its name from a turbine that converts wind into power, and the concept of a blue ocean that represents the company's desire to convey talent and passion from outside the region to the region to create new businesses. He opened BAR Cross Guild in Kiwa, Murayama City as well where they hold monthly events such as shogi, and will celebrate their first anniversary in November 2023. They also manage share houses and guest houses for medium- to long-term residents, and are currently opening a second location in Murayama City. Niizeki's hobbies are traveling, going to parties, and basketball. He was very excited to watch the World Cup.
Born in Kanayama, Yamagata in 1980, Kyohei Kawasaki lived in Kanayama until he was 2 years old and then ended up moving to the Kanto Region after junior high school. After graduating from university, he traveled to Spain, where he met renowned architect Antoni Gaudí, thus launching his career in architecture. At the age of 30, after working at a major design firm and atelier in Tokyo, he returned to his hometown of Kaneyama where he currently resides.As the fifth generation of Kaneka Corporation, he runs an architecture office that uses 100-year-old Kanayama cedars from the company's own forest. Breathing new life into living history, he also runs Kura Cafe out of an old storehouse, and Atelier Belle, a select shop that visualizes his own worldview in its products. He creates products with an awareness of both creating something new and connecting history to the present.
PanelistChief Director, THIRD SPACE PRODUCTION Co., Ltd.
After graduating from the College of Communication Arts at the University of the Philippines, Yui was fascinated by the scenery and people of Tohoku and moved to Yamagata in 2019. His portfolio includes television commercials, corporate promotional videos, short films, and documentaries. His film “Reflections” won the Best International Short Film Award and Best Short Director Award at the Malaysia Nitin International Film Festival. and he also won the Special Jury Award at the Singapore World Film Carnival for "Taya."
Born in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture in 1990, Tsubasa Kikuchi is a proud resident of Yamagata City. During university Kakuchi began producing videos and radio dramas, but really got into the industry only after dropping out to pursue a role at Community FM. Sine April 2016, Kikuchi has been operating as a freelancer and in addition to running Oemachi ATERA, he also does creative direction for videos, photography, event planning and much more.
PanelistShinjō Minami High School Kaneyama Branch School
Shinpei Matsuda・Tonami Jinushi
Born in Yamagata in 1993, after graduating from Nihon University Yamagata Senior High School, Ken Miura studied abroad at the University of Washington in the United States. After consulting for sole proprietors, he ended up working in brand strategy consultation development for corporations. Currently, he mainly works on helping small and medium-sized enterprises formulate their missions and visions in order to discover and verbalize their unique values. His services cover a wide variety of fields including websites, advertisements, new business development, and recruitment,all of which lead back to him providing a total brand strategy that instills a strong internal company philosophy reflecting their values as companies.
Born December 28, 1974, in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture, and raised in Kawanishi, Naoko Inoue is currently a proud resident of Nagai City. During her time as a student at Kunori Gakuen Girl's High School in Yonezawa, she transferred to Glendora High School in California, USA in 1991 before going on to study at California's very own Citrus College. In 1998, she returned to Japan after experiencing working at a travel agency in LA and trying her hand at the media talent industry.
Naoko has worn many hats over the years: Radio DJ, commercial narrator, lounge DJ, bilingual English and Japanese event MC, a TV reporter for YBC Yamagata Broadcasting, TUY, and SAY Sakurambo TV, magazine model (Bi Story), interpreter, and to top it all off, she is currently active as a preschool English teacher as well as performing as one of the Yamagata Maiko. In addition, she is one of the instructors of the Yamagata Prefectural Board of Education's "Learn from Professionals" program.