BLUE WING -WINGS FOR CHANGE- 「Next Changemakers」

Introducing the young Social Entrepreneurs who have the makings
to become the next crop of Changemakers

#nextcm #murajiyutaro

MOKU-CHIN KIKAKU Principal/Founder Muraji Yutaro

Meet the other Next Changemakers

2018-01-15 12:04:00
NEXT Changemaker Series: Preservation is not “Avoiding Change”, it’s “Embracing Change” Ohara: Our vision which is about maximizing the power of matsuri can be split into two parts: using matsuri to revitalize towns and communities, and encouraging more people to embody this ethos. Matsurism is the inherent value of matsuri. It’s about deepening one’s love for one’s hometown, about raising your voice as loud as you can and putting you whole body into it; it’s about real interactions between people. Life in the cities is logical and robotic, but I think there is more to humanity than that. And from an educational standpoint, you learn more running your own matsuri than you do sat in front of a desk. I worry that old traditions like this might be lost with the advancement of technology, and with it humanity itself. Matsurism challenges the idea of keeping things the same to protect them. To change is to preserve and it’s that ethos that we want to promote by getting more people involved with matsuri, which I plan to do on a much wider scale by taking matsuri around the country. That wraps up the interview with Manabu Ohara and Kyoji Iwadate and with it another edition of the Next Changemaker series. If these posts have piqued your interest in matsuri, why not join one of Matsurism’s tours. BLUE WING will continue to support Changemakers like these and put them in the spotlight. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #matsurism
2018-01-14 11:44:00
NEXT Changemaker Series: Matsuri that Resurrect Towns With around 300,000 matsuri in Japan, it would be wrong to generalize, but the decision making system behind matsuri is an outdated one. As the decision making process and people are all part and parcel of the tradition of matsuri, it’s always been this way and it’s hard to change. However, it’s a system that in some regions, puts young people off from joining in, creating a bit of a dilemma and a stalemate between the generations. Matsurism comes in and untangles the knots. As outsiders, we are able to communicate the appeal of matsuri through a more objective lens. The people who join us are attracted by the passion and unity that goes into rural matsuri; it allows them to experience a warm human-interaction not found in the urban sprawl. And in return, seeing the city dweller’s reactions, instills the people in the region with a newfound realization and pride of just how amazing their matsuri are. The focus then switches from lack of money and people to the fulfillment of the matsuri-goer. The more people that are involved with matsuri viewing the challenges of the matsuri as that of the town, the more people there are adopting a proactive attitude towards their region. Iwadate: For 3 years now we have been involved in the Takagi Shrine festival in Tokyo’s Sumida ward. I will never forget what one of the 70 year-old organizers once told me. “This town almost died, but you’ve resurrected it!”, he told me. “But we can’t rely on you forever. We need to think for ourselves from here on”, he added. If we had more people with that mindset, we would have more success in reviving these regions. That’s what we mean by the power of matsuri. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #matsurism
2018-01-13 12:00:00
NEXT Changemaker Series: Matsuri that Transcends Borders, Changes Lives Ohara: “This year will be my third year of involvement in Chichibu’s Yomatsuri (night festival) which came about through a friend at university who lived in the area. I met current Vice President, Kyoji Iwadate, in the University’s Yosakoi Dance club. Coming all the way from rural Kanagawa, the hustle and bustle of Tokyo was a huge culture shock for me, and failure to immediately adapt to university life was getting me down, but that’s when a friend, unfazed by my somewhat withdrawn personality, took me along to the school festival where I made the chance encounter with the Yosakoi dance troupe. Seeing them perform with such energy made me want to join in and before long I had become a member of the club. Dancing with them was so much fun. I still remember that reassuring feeling of acceptance. This was in my 2nd year of university. I spent my third year on a year abroad in America, and decided to use the opportunity to spread some Japanese Festival culture. I taught Yosakoi dance to foreigners, showing off my skills everywhere from the local nursery and retirement home, to the graduation ball, anywhere I could. “Your so cool!” they would tell me. The wealth of compliments helped alleviate the inevitable loneliness of being in a foreign country and filled me with happiness. Inspired by this positive feedback, on my return to Japan, I began working towards creating a place where both expats and international students alike could share their country’s culture. My slogan was “matsuri transcends borders”. Yosakoi and matsuri had given me so many moving, almost tearful moments that stayed with me even after entering the world of work. I never forgot the wonder of matsuri and how it had the power to change lives. And then, on 30th November 2016, I setup Matsurism. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #matsurism
2017-08-30 12:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:Gaining Trust, Slowly but Surely The program’s early days were fraught with problems… Even with the Mayor’s support not everyone understood when a load of students rolled in from Tokyo and said they were going to “revitalize the region”. It’s not like we know all the correct answers. It’s how you solve the problem that matters. “Never run away” we always told them. If people get angry at you, take it in good faith, bow your head and try them again later. Trust isn’t gained over night; you earn it through little everyday actions. For some, this meant responding to a call in the middle of the night to fix a PC which then turned into a drinking session even though they had to work early the next morning. (laughs) Well that’s just one example. What I am trying to say is that there are no shortcuts; you have to deal with people head on. Sometimes you have to deliver harsh truths to people such as teaching people that in 10 years’ time, due to depopulation, their village will be a ghost town and that they are the only ones who can do anything about it. Imagine if that person is an aggressive-looking, middle-aged man. Honestly, it’s a nerve racking task (laughs). Whatever the task, I strongly believe that it’s important to stay firm to your beliefs. You have to go in there with the determination to tell them that if that’s the way they want it, then fine, you will leave, but if they want their village to have a future, they must work together with you. It’s then that the debates can be had and the work can start. In one homestead in Tsuwano, the work has turned into a long term project to engage the townspeople with many people participating every year. Some participants even try to set up a business in residence there afterwards. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #hayashikenji
2017-08-29 12:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:The Project’s Birth, 4 Students off to Tsuwano Founding Base’s business model was inspired by Wendy Kopp’s “Teach for America”. Rated as the most popular NPO among job seekers by Google and Apple in 2010, it was a recruitment model placing top graduates from America in to 2 year teaching programs in schools in poorer regions. The credit it added to the graduates resume and the high regard it was given by top companies are what made the program so popular. Given that Founding Base’s mission was the circulation of people, information and finance within society, we thought that we could emulate this example. Our target would be young people aspiring to join top-tier companies. For a student, 1-2 years’ experience would give them a valuable leg up on the employment ladder and improve their future prospects. It started with four students. Originally we were only planning to take on one, but with so many enthusiastic candidates, it increased. They were selected based on how much they could grit their teeth and rack their brains in the face of unsolvable problems. We started the four off with a task to design a tourist map to improve communication with the locals. After all, in a town of 8,500 people you can’t just go around making friends with everyone (laughs). From there, they were left to devise their own ways to revitalize the area and methods to implement them. Despite the unaccepting, challenging nature of the environment, the four were too excited to let that bother them and had a great deal of energy. Two of the four are now company employees. Another set up a business there in April this year and spends half of the month living in the town. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #hayashikenji
2017-08-28 12:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:A Momentous Encounter It’s not that I had an interest in “Regional Revitalization” to begin with, I just developed the desire at some point to effect change; change that would make others happy. My mother was always telling me from a young age to: “live for others”. Actually, I think it was a culmination of lots of things: a year abroad in Belgium that exposed me to environmental problems and various other stimuli, university research and of course my experience working for Ashoka Japan. In my 4th year at university where I was studying for a community studies major, I was invited to take part in a regeneration program for guesthouses in Nagano’s Shirauma. It was some time shortly after that, and a chance meeting with a Tsuwano resident who was friends with the mayor, that my connection with the town began. They set me up with an opportunity to pitch my Regional Revitalization initiative to him, whose response was, “this is great, go do it!”. This set up the meeting with the manager of the town’s city hall, Miyauchi Shuwa (presently Vice Chief of the town’s Tokyo office). Meeting him really was fate. To me Mr. Miyauchi is Tsuwano — that’s how important he was. It’s also around about this time that I met the person who set up Founding Base together with me, Sasaki Takashi and that the project set sail. In 2011, the year that the project got underway, Tsuwano’s population had shrunk to 8,500 people. Even in Shimane, a prefecture with the worst case of depopulation in the country, this was low. The fall had come as a shock to the town’s mayor who had resolved that something out of the ordinary had to be done. For me, the timing was perfect. Mr. Miyauchi was so passionate and focused that he easily got the townspeople onboard and was soon driving things forward. Hearing Mr. Miyauchi’s desire to create a town that his son would want to return to, I could no longer just sit on the sidelines. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #hayashikenji