Interview: NiziU Discuss Their Favourite Moments in Life For Coca-Cola Japan’s New Commercial

06.January.2021 | FOOD / MUSIC

Coca-Cola Japan launched a new campaign and commercial on Monday (January 4) titled “Kono Shunkan ga, Watashi,” which roughly translates to “This Moment is Me.”

2020 saw tremendous changes in the lives of people around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those changes continue to this day. Coca-Cola Japan’s new campaign aims to spread positivity with a mindset that says enjoy yourself to the fullest is the right way to go precisely because things have changed. It’s a campaign for loving those moments spent with friends and family in whatever way possible.

 

The new commercial posted alongside the campaign’s launch features the members of the Japanese girl group NiziU singing and dancing to the tune of their new song Take a picture. The commercial shoot took place over the course of two days, and it’s reported that the set had a bright and positive atmosphere as NiziU greeted staff with smiles, vim, and vigour. On the first day they shot the dance and rooftop scenes, while the second day took them to the house studio. There’s also a scene of the group giving MAYUKA’s a surprise birthday celebration her birthday had fallen on the day before.

Coca-Cola Japan has released limited-edition NiziU bottles as part of the collaboration which feature a QR code on them. When scanned, you can access the campaign website to sign up to win access to a special Coca-Cola x NiziU online event, a NiziU-original QUO card worth ¥1,000, and points for the LINE app. A total of 200,000 lucky winners will be chosen. There are 10 bottle designs to look out for.

Additionally, a special 35-meter long ad poster is being displayed for a limited time at Shinjuku Station connecting to the East and West exits.

 

NiziU Interview

―Your names are written on the limited-edition NiziU Coca-Cola bottles. How do you feel about them lining the shelves in stores?

 

MAKO:
I am super happy that our names get to go on the Coca-Cola labels! I hope lots of people see them and are filled with positive vibes.

 

RIKU:
It doesn’t feel real to me yet either that our names are featuring on Coca-Cola products. When they hit the stores I kind of want to go searching for my own name <laughs>.

 

RIMA:
There’s a QR code on the bottles when might land you something if you scan it with your phone, so be on the lookout and try finding my bottle.

 

―When do you find yourselves wanting to drink Coca-Cola?

RIO:
I’m personally a huge foodie, so I like to drink it together with people when everyone’s eating their favourite food.

 

MAYA:
I definitely find myself wanting some when I need a kick of positivity or need some energy.

 

―Please give your thoughts on the commercial shoot.

MAYUKA:
When went on the rooftop with everyone, and when we were practicing the dances, we were drinking Coca-Cola. I feel the shoot had a completely different air to it than our usual practice. Everyone said “Cheers!” [with their drinks] on the roof. It was a lot of fun.

 

AYAKA:
It was hard to convey the appeal of Coca-Cola [during the shoot], so we thought to convey its delicious taste how we would convey the appeal of [NiziU]. We showed ourselves really enjoying its delicious taste.

 

NINA:
The shoot for this commercial was so much fun, there’s so many great bits in it! It looks so tasty watching everyone gulp down their drinks. It was a great time, I like everyone’s facial expressions in it. Be sure to check it out.

 

―Give us each of your thoughts on the “This Moment is Me” campaign and how it relates to yourselves.

MAKO:
I feel the most me thing is when I’m writing in my diary. I write in it at the end of every day, it’s my favourite moment.

 

RIKU:
When I’m eating something. I feel only happiness when eating; I forget all the bad things and can concentrate just by eating something tasty. It’s a moment I can be myself.

 

RIMA:
I really love steady and straightforward work, like puzzles, so when I’m concentrating on one thing I really get in the zone, to the point where I can’t hear people even if they call my name. I think that kind of moment is most me.

 

RIO:
For me, it’s when I’m dancing. It’s something I’ve done since I was little, so I think working hard and practicing to improve in that is my most me moment.

 

MAYA:
The moment which is most me is when I’m cooking. I find it so much fun and love seeing people enjoy the food I cook for them.

 

MAYUKA:
It would be when I’m playing with my cat. I have two cats at home and can be my true self when playing with them.

 

AYAKA:
When I’m video calling my mom. We talk about the silliest things and laugh, and that’s when I feel most like myself. I love those moments the most.

 

NINA:
The moments I love the most are when I’m drawing. I don’t have to think about anything when I’m drawing and can relax, so they’re definitely my favourite.

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    The theme for the promotion is centred on “helping girls’ lashes to stay curled for a long period of time during today’s day and age where everyone is keeping fit, and to support them as they move to achieve their dreams.” In the promotional material, NiziU is serving positive vibes and showcasing the fun of makeup.

     

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    When used as a regular mascara, the Curl Keep Magic can elevate the natural look of the eyes for an effortless finish. And by using it as a primer, you can add a different mascara on top that keeps for a long time.

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  • Coca-Cola Gets Limited-Edition NiziU Japanese Girl Group Bottle Design

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  • Interview: Airbnb Japan Managing Officer Hidetomo Nagata & Sanken Kogyo President Mori Iwata discuss raising Japan’s value through new and exciting creativity

    01.February.2020 | BUSINESS / FEATURES

    Japanese art and culture is recognised the world over, but recently, it feels like the pressure is being put on by countries like South Korea and China. But what you perhaps didn’t know is that the businesses that work to promote Japan’s culture to the worldーthrough that creativity and those servicesーare actually thriving. We had the opportunity to speak with a certain two individuals: Hidetomo Nagata, Managing Officer at Airbnb Japanーa company that increases the value of real estateーand Mori Iwata, the President of Sanken Kogyo, which creates value from zero.

    *This is a shortened version of the interview

    ——-I’d first like to ask you both to explain what it is that both of your companies do.

     

    Nagata: I work for the Japanese subsidiary of Airbnb. Airbnb was first established in 2008 as a platform for helping people to match various conditions for their trips. Services began with accommodation; today, we have over 7 million locations listed in 191 countries. Past statistics show that over 500 million people have stayed as guests, and our revenue from Hosts, who rent out their houses, exceeds 8.8 trillion yen. We are also expanding our services on the side to offer more things, like our Experience and Adventure services. It’s a comprehensive platform for travelling.

     

    Iwata: So you have not only accommodation, but experience-based services too?

     

    Nagata: We began the Experience service in 2016. To give an example of what it is, [we are partnered with] people who are skilled in things like traditional Japanese crafts, and they will give [travelling] foreign guests the chance to learn about those skills. 2020 is the year of the Olympics, so we are offering experiences in conjunction with Olympians too. You can learn about various rules from an Olympian, ask them about competing, experience their sport hands-on, and so on, in the hopes that people will come to enjoy those particular sports more. We’d also be overjoyed if the Olympians made use of these experiences as a second career.

     

    Iwata: My company makes prototypes. While I say prototypes, it actually constitutes a variety of things, for example, office automation equipment, cars, medical equipment, stationery, toys, and so on. We make a wide range of different prototypes. Stationery, for example, is something we all use daily, isn’t it? But what we make is the prototype. So it doesn’t get released into the world, but is instead used as the basis for it to then be mass-produced. Our prototype products don’t stay around, but it’s very rewarding.

    ——-Tell me about your strengths that make you competitive to other companies.

     

    Nagata: Airbnb’s vision is ‘Belong Anywhere,’ meaning that no matter where you travel, you too will feel like you are living in that place. We learn about a region, have locals tell us about places to eat, and so on. We value the things we learn through our hosts. This has created a new lifestyle for people, as well as a community. We have a lot of hosts who have said to us that their lives have changed after starting with Airbnb. By opening their doors, and communicating with the people of the world, their worlds expand, they acquire knowledge, and they gain more income. For me, that’s a valuable thing.

     

    Iwata: We’re a really small company in our warehouse. In the past, there were lots of small companies, but they have since been weeded out and disappeared. The businesses I bump into on my way to work are all huge, but our strength lies in the fact that the warehouse, office and business are all in the same place. There aren’t many companies out there on this scope with all of these things firmly in place. The speed at which we do things can’t be done at a major company either. I can work right there and then during a meeting or appointment. We don’t have strengths and weaknesses; we can make anything. That, and our shop staff who interact with customers are first-class. Our perspective is that we can absolutely make what they’re after, and at a reasonable price, so I think they’ll choose us. We can do anythingーmetal, resin, plastic. I’ll go ahead and say that we’re probably the only ones who have come as far as we have.

    ——-Sanken Kogyo opened a subsidiary overseas too, didn’t you?

     

    Iwata: I mentioned earlier how I went to America. Well, I set up a subsidiary in Chicago last year. We are the third prototype company in Japan to have done so. We don’t have employees there yet, but I’m excited!

     

    ——-On the other hand, Airbnb is a service that began outside of Japan. Do you ever pour all of your energy into Japan?

     

    Nagata: Homeshares and homestays aren’t common but more and more people are wanting to give it a go. For us to be able to think about things like homeshares and for it to become a normal choice for people, we’re creating new services and designs related to accommodation, not just internally, but with our seventeen Airbnb Partners too.

    The hotel MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS in Harajuku was renovated from a 50-year-old or so building. By carrying out renovations, they are able to create rooms with a strong design aspectーrooms that are expensive to rent out. They combine accommodation with Japanese culture, so I believe they’ll be able to embrace homeshares.

     

    ——-The two of you give rise to value with your businesses, but what does value mean exactly for you personally?

     

    Nagata: I think value is relative. It determines a person’s subjectivity, and it can end up changing how you look at something or your way of thinking. I believe Airbnb is bringing about a new sense of value when it comes to real estate. If we’re talking leasing property, then how new building is and how close it is to the station are conditions with value. On the other hand, if it’s hotel accommodation, a building that’s 100-years-old is itself a valuable condition, and reviews that highlight it as a good aspect increase trust, even if the location isn’t ideal. Even if the price range increases, users will still stay there. I believe that the way in which you draw value from the same piece of real estate can change depending on how you think about it.

     

    Nagata: How about you, Mr. Iwata? Listening to your story, I see the speed of your interactions and communication bring value for you.

     

    Iwata: You hit the nail on the head. The speed of our staff is tied to customers’ trust. When we’re making a deal, our estimations gradually end up going in a different direction <laughs>. We have times when things don’t go well in the end, like when we’re taking in various opinions while cobbling together a prototype. But I know those times, so I’ll do things like go and work on something else at the same time instead. If our estimations go well in the end it’s good, so our staff’s qualities, like their quick-wittedness, ties customers to us. It’s the same thing as the machines we use being for building prototypes. I think in the end, communication between people is the newest way to create value. Especially since the industry in Japan has no life in itat the minute.. I want them to get in the spirit more.

    ——-Sanken Kogyo opened a subsidiary overseas too, didn’t you?

     

    Iwata: I mentioned earlier how I went to America. Well, I set up a subsidiary in Chicago last year. We are the third prototype company in Japan to have done so. We don’t have employees there yet, but I’m excited!

     

    ——-On the other hand, Airbnb is a service that began outside of Japan. Do you ever pour all of your energy into Japan?

     

    Nagata: Homeshares and homestays aren’t common but more and more people are wanting to give it a go. For us to be able to think about things like homeshares and for it to become a normal choice for people, we’re creating new services and designs related to accommodation, not just internally, but with our 128 Airbnb Partners too.

     

    The hotel MOSHI MOSHI ROOMS in Harajuku was renovated from a 50-year-old or so building. By carrying out renovations, they are able to create rooms with a strong design aspectーrooms that are expensive to rent out. They combine accommodation with Japanese culture, so I believe they’ll be able to embrace homeshares.

     

    ——-The two of you give rise to value with your businesses, but what does value mean exactly for you personally?

     

    Nagata: I think value is relative. It determines a person’s subjectivity, and it can end up changing how you look at something or your way of thinking. I believe Airbnb is bringing about a new sense of value when it comes to real estate. If we’re talking leasing property, then how new building is and how close it is to the station are conditions with value. On the other hand, if it’s hotel accommodation, a building that’s 100-years-old is itself a valuable condition, and reviews that highlight it as a good aspect increase trust. Even if the price range increases, users will still stay there. I believe that the way in which you draw value from the same piece of real estate can change depending on how you think about it.

     

    Nagata: How about you, Mr. Iwata? Listening to your story, I see the speed of your interactions and communication bring value for you.

     

    Iwata: You hit the nail on the head. The speed of our staff is tied to customers’ trust. When we’re making a deal, our estimations gradually end up going in a different direction <laughs>. We have times when things don’t go well in the end, like when we’re taking in various opinions while cobbling together a prototype. But I know those times, so I’ll do things like go and work on something else at the same time instead. If our estimations go well in the end it’s good, so our staff’s qualities, like their quick-wittedness, ties customers to us. It’s the same thing as the machines we use being for building prototypes. I think in the end, communication between people is the newest way to create value. Especially since the industry in Japan has no life in itat the minute.. I want them to get in the spirit more.

     

    ——-For my last question, please tell me about your visions for the future.

    Nagata: Personally, I want to expand the possibilities for new lifestyles, ways of living, and design, which we have done through shares. I was originally a politician before this, so I’m aware of the problems of how to move our society and regions forward. I think sharing is one of the ways to solve it. By sharing vacant houses around the country, we can give rise to nonresident populations, and if elderly people use these kinds of services, they’ll have a great time. I think we’re still lacking on the design side of things, so we will create by working with other businesses, and I hope we can pave the way for new lifestyles and ways of working.

     

    Iwata: Whether it’s in Japan, factories in China, or the US, I want to work hard to get our prototype workshop out there. I think the Japanese industry has plenty left to give, so I want to challenge myself to that. I want the world to see more of Japan’s industry!

     

    Nagata: Mr. Iwata, I can see you’re active in the work place and having a good time in your position. I think it’s a wonderful thing that you’re paving the way for new things in response to the crisis of your industry.

     

    Iwata: Thank you. I’m kind of embarrassed hearing that <laughs>. I’ve learned a lot listening to your story too.

    Sanken Kogyo, an exciting production business bringing about value and promoting Japanese craftsmanship to the world. Airbnb, a company raising the value of real estate, and expanding its travel services across the globe. From zero to one; from one to a hundred. I feel the infinite expansion of these two companies. In lieu of repeating the services that already exist, their work allows for constant challenge, and thus enables them to grow. I look forward to the future growth of these new creative industries and services, which will astonish the world.

     

    Interview & Text: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • We Interviewed The Creators Behind Sanrio’s Popular Enjoy Idol Series

    20.January.2020 | FASHION / FEATURES

    Are you aware of Sanrio’s “Enjoy Idol Series”? For idol fans, it’s an essential part of your concert trip for the ultimate experience.

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    Idol uchiwa fans. If you’re in Japan, you’ll have definitely seen these around – a round fan bearing a large picture of an artist or idol in the centre. From cute Sanrio-themed items to decorate your idol concert merchandise to even a keyring that preserves concert confetti, Sanrio’s Enjoy Idol Series is full of must-have items for concert-going idol fans. However, there seems to be no other secondary use of these items that cater to the non-concert-goer. What a niche market.

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    Just how much do idol fans love these items? After conducting research among friends with over 10-years of experience as an obsessive idol fan, it seems that these are more popular than one may think. A quick visit to Sanrio’s official website revealed that the series is so popular that many items sell out quickly.

     

    Despite trying to reach out to what might seem a small, niche market, these items seem to be in high demand among idol fans. Just what kind of person came up with such an idea? Curious to find out, we met up with the Enjoy Idol Series project planners for an interview.

     

    Q1: It’s a pleasure to have this interview. We at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON love Sanrio so much that it’s not often we go long without releasing some kind of news about you. One of the most fascinating Sanrio merchandise series has to be the Enjoy Idol Series for its high demand in such a niche area. Our first question is: From what idea or initial thought was this series born?

     

    Project Planner: The Enjoy Idol Series is managed by me and one other person. Both of us are avid idol fans. We noticed not only lots of fans at concerts using Sanrio merchandise, but also many idol fans on social media using Sanrio characters as profile pictures and as stickers on their photos online. For quite a few years now there’s been a connection forming between idol fans and Sanrio characters in several ways.

     

    We also noticed that although merchandise aimed at idol fans is steadily increasing, there still wasn’t anything cute for them out there. That’s why we started designing this series. The other project leader and I often go to concerts and watch DVDs together. That’s when the ideas started flowing. Eventually, we were packing our project full of ideas and it was really fun. We thought of how we could combine Sanrio characters and idol fans to create something incredibly cute

     

    Q2: It’s wonderful to hear that you are both idol fans yourselves. When you first had these initial ideas running through your head, were you confident that your series would become popular among other idol fans?

     

    Planner: We were very excited to have created this cute Enjoy Idol series and we were certain that other fans would feel the same. And the reaction to it exceeded my expectations. Even people who don’t usually go to Sanrio shops buy something from the series because of their love of Sanrio which made us really happy to see.

     

    Q3: Having seen all the sold out products on your website, it’s clear that many people appreciate what you’ve done. How does it feel to see idol fans using merchandise that you designed?

     

    Project Planner: We’re just so grateful to see people using items from the Enjoy Idol Series to make the most of their concert experience. A lot of people buying products from the series buy specific items based on strongly associating their idol with a certain Sanrio character. We’ve now learned the reasons behind the choices fans make when purchasing from the series which has been a real eye-opener.

    Silver Decoration Case (7 Varieties): ¥660 (After Tax)

    A box to save your concert confetti

     

    Q4: After some research among a number of friends who are idol fans, it seems that your series is a big hit. Many are excited to see what you are going to knock up next. Do you have any new ideas you’re warming up to?

     

    Project Planner: I cannot reveal any specific details just yet. We are still in the process of creating our next items. You can expect them to maintain Sanrio’s cute style. As an idol fan myself, I am committed to making sure these items are of high functionality for our users.

     

    Q5: I’m sure that many people will be over the moon to hear that you are developing yet more cute items. Do you have any final words you would like to say to idol fans and Sanrio fans?

     

    Project Planner: I would like to thank you all for your continuous support for the Enjoy Idol Series. We are delighted to improve your lifestyle and we hope that these items help you make the most of your experience as an idol fan.

     

    When you have something to adore, you lead a fulfilling life. I’ve heard the stories of friends who are idol fans and can feel their excitement towards the release of our new products. I’m so happy to think that these products are improving the quality of life for many idol fans.

    Diary Stickers (7 Varieties): ¥275 (After Tax)

     These stickers are full of words perfect for idol fans but of no use to those who are not idol fans!

     

    Just seeing some of the specific words and phrases written on the idol stickers shows just how much the project planners understand and feel close to other idol fans. It is enough to warm your heart.

     

    The two project planners put their love of idol fans at the centre of their design proposal, creating a merchandise series just for them. Each item connects idol fans through their mutual love. This eye-opening interview showed the true strength of shared passion when catering to a niche market.

     

    Despite not being an idol fan themselves, our interviewer could feel the love poured into each item in the series. What item will be released next? We’ll be just as excited as the idol fans are, waiting eagerly for its release.

     

    ⓒ’76, ’88, ’89, ’96, ’01, ’05, ’19 SANRIO. 著作(株)サンリオ

  • Interview: Go! Go! Curry President Hirokazu Miyamori & Sakura President Toshiaki Yuasa Discuss Progressive Innovation and Generating Added Value

    28.November.2019 | BUSINESS / FEATURES

    Kanazawa, also known as Kaga Hyakuman-gokuーan old name with a long history that originally marked the city’s tradition of wealth, and can also be used to refer to anything that is quintessentially Kanazawa. Capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, the city of Kanazawa is known as a place rich in art and traditional culture, and enjoys no shortage of popular tourist and sightseeing spots. At the core of all of this is the creative mind of the Kanazawan people from which these things have formed. We had the chance to speak with two company presidents, both of whom were born in Kanazawa: Hirokazu Miyamori of GO GO CURRY GROUP CO.,LTD., and Toshiaki Yuasa of Sakura Inc.

     

    The interview was carried out at the Show House Gallery at Sakura Inc.

     

    ーーーMr. Yuasa, this is a really wonderful place, isn’t it? I’d like to begin the interview by asking for a brief explanation of each of your companies.

     

    Yuasa: Thank you very much. My name is Yuasa, and I work at Sakura. We are a company specialising in custom housing, and have done so for the past 26 years since establishing. We centre on the Ishikawa Prefecture area, but also have galleries in Toyama, Gifu, and Kyoto.

     

    Miyamori: I’m Miyamori, and I work at Go! Go! Curry Group. We opened the first Go! Go! Curry branch in Shinjuku in May 2004. We specialise in curry and sell pre-packed curry products. Today, we have restaurants not only in Japan, but America, Brazil, and elsewhere too.

    ーーーIf I’m not mistaken, you were both born in Kanazawa, correct?

     

    Miyamori: Yes. I’ve had “The Nation of Kaga Hyakuman-goku” chiseled into my head since I was small. I didn’t know what it meant back then, but after I travelled to Tokyo and went overseas, I realised how beautiful a place Kanazawa is for its history, traditional arts, and culture. Those two characters* had more meaning than I thought. They have weight, are a brand, and contain soul and spirit.

    *Referring to the Japanese reading of Kanazawa, “金沢.”

     

    Yuasa: It’s just as Mr Miyamori says. I feel a yearning when hearing the word Kanazawa. I believe anyone and everyone there has an interest in its traditions and culture. And that’s because Kanazawa is a region with history, with style.

     

    Miyamori: From being a young age, it’s been normal to know and have artisans around you. For instance, you go to someone’s house, and their father would be a yuzen fabric weaver. When we would go on field trips, we would go to facilities specialising in traditional crafts, go to see a Noh play at a Noh theatre, get involved in various cultural and seasonal events. But these days, those kinds of things aren’t as tied to people anymore. It’s something I realised by going outside.

     

    ーーーーI feel like I now understand a little more the reason behind why there are so many creative people in Kanazawa. Both of you are founders, correct?

     

    Miyamori: When I was 20, I went to New York. I said to myself that I would definitely go back there again. It was a dream of mine. But I ended up forgetting about it when I became a member of society. One day, I saw that a local [baseball] player and star transferred to the New York Yankees. I was so happy hearing that, and at the same time I remembered, “Oh yeah, I went there one time too.” I had no intention of opening a curry shop or becoming a company president. I just wanted to go to New York.

     

    Yuasa: I completely get that <laughs>. I worked for a local company for 15 years, and had some unexpected luck which led to what I’m doing today. I established the company in the latter half of my 30s, but at the time I really had the same kind of authority that Mr Miyamori has <laughs>. Being young is scary in a sense. ‘Management’ has a generational appeal to it, but Mr Miyamori is young, so I think he’s got much more to offer yet!

     

    Miyamori: Haha!

     

    Yuasa: When I look at Mr Miyamori here, I can tell he’s really close with his staff. Do you wear this uniform in Tokyo, too?

     

    Miyamori: I do. I go about like this on the bullet train and plane too! The people in New York get me pretty well as well.

     

    Yuasa: I bet! <laughs> You’re a man of nerve.

     

    Miyamori: We’re a team, so even at this moment in time, my heart is connected to the hearts of all my hardworking staff across the country. They wear the same thing too. I don’t think of myself as a company president or an employee. I think I’m more of a captain.

     

    ーーーーTell me about how you’re putting strength into each of your businesses today.

     

    Miyamori: Up to now we’ve focused our efforts on opening more stores, but now we’re pouring our energy into building our brand. We now have consignments not only for Go! Go! Curry, but Turban Curry, Hot House, and Samrat too. And all of these brands have real soul. That’s why I don’t only want to open restaurants. I also want to sell pre-packaged curry and curry for business use, as well as polish our brand to attract more customers.

     

    Yuasa: I too am putting the majority of our attention into our brand. Branding involves a lot of things, like the image our customers have of us, and putting value in various different things, and by not responding to that structure when running a company, I believe there is no future for you. It’s difficult to find the right words to convey to customers who are particular about things, but is that feeling that the customer has not important?

     

    Miyamori: You’ve got to show them, don’t you?

     

    Yuasa: That’s right. There are many things here in this gallery like that which have added value, but even if I were to put them into words it would be difficult to get through, so I want to actually show them by preparing land and buildings. By adopting new things people have never seen before in properties, it adds value for customers so they don’t see it as just a building. To do that, it’s important to keep our eyes open and always work on innovating. If you want to innovate, but don’t have a clear vision or concept, your mind will become clouded before you can achieve it. And even when you do, every day is still a struggle.

     

    Miyamori: Everyday, that’s for sure. <laughs>

     

    Yuasa: Speaking of which, I’m the only impatient one. I leave it to my employees. Akira Yoshino, who won the Nobel Prize [in Chemistry] this year, also said it was for research for the generations of young people to come. He was right.

     

    Miyamori: If there’s no challenge, there’s no growth, and it’s not fun. It’s blood, sweat and tears. I’m taking part in the next Kanazawa Marathon, and training for it has been really tough.

     

    Yuasa: You’ll be running in that uniform, right? You’re sure to stand out from the crowd!

     

    Miyamori: The people along the roadside cheer you on. That’s a huge source of strength. I can only relax once the run is over. That sense of accomplishment when you reach the goal is difficult to put into words. I want young people to experience this same feeling.

     

    Yuasa: That sounds really good. If one of our workers signs up for the Kanazawa Marathon, I wonder if they’d be able to borrow a uniform from you?

     

    Miyamori: If you’ve got someone who’d bear the responsibility of our company I’ll be sure to cheer them on! The people being cheered on, too. Even if it looks like you’ll be crushed, you keep at it. You’ll make bonds in the company. It’s the same with managing too. It’s tough to keep going, but when you achieve that goal, all of those troubles and hardships disappear in an instant.

     

    Yuasa: It’s a cycle of achieving, and then aiming toward your next objective.

     

    Miyamori: You completely forget about the troubles, don’t you? <laughs>

     

    ーーーI see. And do you ever feel a sense of fulfilment at work?

     

    Miyamori: It makes me happy when the customers call the curry we serve delicious. Other things too, like our curry being the first curry a child has ever eaten, or a family coming together again over it. We distribute curry to disaster-stricken areas, so we’re happy if we can become a source of energy for people too. I feel happy when our workers set high goals, we achieve them and grow from it, too.

    Yuasa: It really makes me happy when I meet with a customer who bought a house from us a year later and they say that it’s a really great house. A house isn’t something you go and buy multiple times, so I feel relieved when they are satisfied. And although we’re a small company, I’m happy I can leave it to my staff so that they can grow. Because they try and they move forward, then the future will open for them. And with that, it’s the responsibility of the company president to bring about results from their hard work. Managing such a task is a tough job alone, but that’s what being a company president is. And if you don’t have that, you’ll fail.

     

    Miyamori: I get that. You’ve got to pour in blood, sweat and tears if you want to grow. If you don’t go all out, you’re not going to sweat. You will grow greatly if you continue to go all out with everyone involved and achieve a monumental goal.

     

    ーーーYou both have warm feelings towards your staff and workers, don’t you?

     

    Miyamori: They feel like my own children. So it makes me really happy when they get married, have kids, and build a home.

     

    Yuasa: That’s true. And also, if your company doesn’t grow, you can’t continue to exist. It’s important to always look towards growth and strive with everyone.

    ーーーFor my last question, I’d like to ask you about your visions for the future.

     

    Miyamori: Curry will save the planet! I’m aiming for the world with curry! For instance, if we were talking about ramen, and someone asked me which is more deliciousーeating ramen at a restaurant or at homeーI’d say eating it at a restaurant. But when it comes to curry, your mother’s is the most delicious. Basically, the curry you eat out isn’t growing or improving. Just like how Starbucks serves delicious coffee all around the world, I also want to serve delicious curry around the world.

     

    Yuasa: Your vision is really easy to understand <laughs>.

     

    Miyamori: Curry is actually a delicious form of Chinese food therapy. We can divide up allergies, so we make it delicious for everyone from children to the elderly. Also, when you eat curry, your bowel warms up, so with curry you can also look at increasing healthy life expectancy, building immunities, and fighting cancer. This curry is a Nobel Peace Prize meal! How about you, Mr Yuasa? What are you looking towards for the future?

     

    Yuasa: I want to build a company that tackles problems faced by customers, like adding value to buildings by making them earthquake-proof and lowering electricity costs, as well as seeing how to incorporate that into housing. Our customers are valuable so we’re seeking value. We want to make lots of houses that answer the question, “How can I live happily in this house?” I believe how people live happy lives in a house changes generation by generation, so I want to catch onto that and keep up with the times.

     

    Miyamori: You really are a company president, Mr Yuasa! I don’t even think of myself as well, and I don’t think my employees do either <laughs>. But it’s amazing how much thought you’re putting into ways of living, and I think that’s wonderful.

     

    Yuasa: Thank you. Before I met you, I thought you were a nonstandard person, but after listening to your story today, and seeing you in that uniform, my opinion has changed to conviction. It’s not everyday something like the Nobel Prize comes into conversation <laughs>. I believe things will get better for both yourself and your employees!

     

    Curryーand property. Two completely different worlds, but two company presidents hooked on innovation and growing their brands. Their ambitions and warm feelings they have towards their staff will encourage the people they work with and pave the way for new challenges brought about by adding new value to their companies. The day when the people of Japan are living in their wonderful Sakura homes and eating delicious Go! Go! Curry in them may already be on the horizon.

     

     

    Interview & Text: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: pon

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • Coca Cola Adds Yamagata Prefecture to Stylish Regional Design Series

    27.August.2019 | FOOD / SPOT

    Coca Cola is adding a brand new design to their famous and stylish regional series. Coca Cola’s Slim Bottle Region Design series features illustrations of famous landmarks around Japan on a slim and stylish bottle.  Yamagata Prefecture will be making its grand debut on the slim and stylish bottle on September 2nd and will be sold only in Yamagata Prefecture. 

     

    The Slim Bottle Region Design series aims to add a refreshing kick to your travels. So far, a total of 31 different designs have been released. These new Coca Colas are the perfect way to splash excitement into whatever new food you discover on your travels in the region and will also provide you with the energy boost you need on a tough day of traveling. In previous years, this stylish Coca Cola bottle has even become a very popular souvenir. 

     

    So far, designs based on regions all over the country have been featured on these bottles. Locations used so far include Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Hokushinetsu, Tokai, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawawa. With Yamagata added to the collection, there will be a grand total of 32 different designs.   

     

    Different illustrations to represent the famous foods and culture of Yamagata prefecture cover the entire surface of the bottle. You will notice a person waving a hat decorated with safflowers on a summer night which represents the prefecture’s famous Hanagasa Festival. The illustration of the stylish streets of the Ginzan Onsen will definitely trigger nostalgic memories of the Taisho Era for many. The prefecture’s specialty ー small and sweet sakuranbo cherries ー also make an appearance on the bottle. 

  • Interview: The Future of Kawaii Construction Sites Discussed by ASOBISYSTEM & kajikawa Construction’s Company Presidents

    15.May.2019 | BUSINESS

    kajikawa Construction CO.,LTD was established in Hekinan, Aichi 114 years ago, and throughout its long history it has sought to break down existing conventions and innovate within the industry. Last year, the company began its collaboration with ASOBISYSTEM. For instance, kajikawa built and set up a photo booth at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 while ASOBISYSTEM worked on the design of kajikawa’s company logo and company brochure. This year, both companies are set to strengthen their partnership as they announce a large-scale construction project centred around kawaii (cute) designs. I spoke to Yusuke Nakagawa (President, ASOBISYSTEM CO., LTD) and Mitsuhiro Kajikawa (President, kajikawa Construction CO.,LTD) about their thoughts and shared values on the project.

     


     

     

    ――I would first like to begin by asking for a brief summary of your respective companies and what led to this collaboration.

     

    Mitsuhiro Kajikawa: We are a construction business operating in Aichi Prefecture’s city of Hekinan. The company was founded in 1905 when it was first called Kajikawa Zousensho. In 1959 we began work in the construction industry when Typhoon Vera struck the Tokai region in an effort to help with reconstruction. In recent years, we have worked on many designs for earthquake resistance. One thing in particular is the “Implant Levee” which integrates with the earth. We get many orders to construct infrastructure that ensures structures hold steadfast against earthquakes and tsunamis.

     

    Yusuke Nakagawa: How many employees do you have?

     

    Kajikawa: As of now, 96. Around the time I became Company President there were around 50 but since then it has nearly doubled. Of course I still hold Aichi Prefecture near and dear to my heart as it is our roots, but I also have a desire to offer our services to many other places. Right now we are active up and down Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu.

     

    Nakagawa: Besides the main office do you have branch offices outside of Hekinan?

     

    Kajikawa: We have a branch in Takadanobaba in Tokyo. We’re also making preparations for Osaka Expo [2025], so to ensure that we can build infrastructure in the Kansai region we also opened an office in Osaka in March of this year. Infrastructure development is absolutely essential to winning influence with people. Even in Tokyo, the roads and other facilities are wearing out. We do of course reconstruct things, but I also think it’s also important to carry out earthquake resistance with what we already have to ensure their longevity.

     

     

    Nakagawa: Our company started out as an event organiser, but our focus gradually became acting as management for people. We have grown even further from that now; the various number of people and things we produce is increasing. This puts us in a position where we are very different from the rest, so I was very surprised at first when I saw a request had come from kajikawa Construction.

     

    Kajikawa: I had heard about ASOBISYSTEM by chance through agencies, but I knew you [managed] many famous names including Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. My image of you was also that you are a central figure in creating “Kawaii” which is a representative culture of Harajuku. Though I look like this, I’ve actually always loved kawaii things since I was young. But I can’t show that when it comes to things work-related. Getting the opportunity to do this and use the word “kawaii” feels very liberating for me [laughs].

     

    Brochure

     

    ――You started collaborating with each other last year. It began with ASOBISYSTEM designing kajikawa Construction’s company logo and company brochure. It has received quite the revamp, hasn’t it?

     

    Nakagawa: I spoke with President Kajikawa and wondered whether he knew that the word “Kawaii” doesn’t apply solely to things like fashion. We too don’t take “Kawaii” as something superficial, we treat the concept closer to what it actually is. The essence of “Kawaii” is something that brings a smile to and brightens people then and there. I feel that President Kajikawa understands that concept and that’s why he sent us an offer. So I want to invest in our “Kawaii” and and return the favour with a lasting relationship.

     

    Kajikawa: When I took a look at the design of the company brochure I was surprised to see two of my favourite elements in there. The first were my favourite colours, pink and and green. The second was the use of traditional Japanese patterns. You took those traditional patterns and made them into a more contemporary pop design. You were kind enough to put all of my wishes in there, so much so that I was left wondering if we’d had a conversation about it beforehand.

     

    Nakagawa: I was happy that you liked it and admired that you accepted the design. The construction industry is a world I’m unfamiliar with, so I was worried what kind of reply I would get. Your openness to upturn the conventions of the industry and make it into something tangible I felt was wonderful.

     

    Logo

     

    ――Your company logo has changed too.

     

    Kajikawa: We are enthusiastically using all the new things we are incorporating. The design will be a hit with younger people. I believe we are breaking out of our old shell and taking new steps forward. It’s a trigger that’s making me feel we are a company to have great expectations for in the future.

     

    Nakagawa: When you look at the construction industry from the outside, your perception of it ends up being just what you imagine it to be. But by simply changing the logo and the brochure that perception can change. I believe the role of a simple brochure can add more value. It is really difficult to realise that adding value is important and then to put money into it. President Kajikawa is a symbol of looking forward.

     

    Kajikawa: The main mission of the construction industry is to adhere to and build what the government office has planned which means we are unable to suggest anything ourselves. It’s for that reason we are receiving help from ASOBISYSTEM, because I want to add our own unique values. By no means are we able to do it on our own. Our ideas end up coagulating and we can’t move on from there. I am grateful to ASOBISYSTEM for giving us a good incentive and for making us feel that we are able to do something if we strive to make that effort.

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 Photo Booth

     

    ――You worked together to set up a photo booth at MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FES 2018. This was designed by ASOBISYSTEM with design checks by President Kajikawa.

     

    Kajikawa: I was very interested in it because the word “Kawaii” is used in designs all around the world. It has a strong message, doesn’t it? It felt unpredictable at first, but when I saw so many people standing in front of the panel taking photos it made me realise that leaving it up to top class designers can influence people.

     

    Nakagawa: We were particular about the colour combinations, weren’t we? You are particular about colours. I’m the same. We also endeavoured to make the design something that conveys the strength of kajikawa Construction as a construction business.

     

    ――Your collaboration together is set to continue throughout the year. It seems you are pressing forward with your large-scale “Kawaii” construction project.

     

    Kajikawa: In order to raise the added value of our company, it’s necessary that we change the way all of our employees think. It’s important to that we have them fully understand what we are doing with ASOBISYSTEM. The best way to do that is to show them a finished product. So our next step will be to forward the project by changing the design of our construction sites. For example, making cones, poles and fences pink. We will show them something they can see with their own eyes.

     

    Nakagawa: There are construction sites even in Shibuya that have character designs on them. They are becoming photo spots [for people]. It’s important to appeal to your employees too, but the effect of purely adding value to your construction sites feels promising.

     

    Kajikawa: It’s promising that our construction sites will become photo spots. Another one of our objectives is to make working people feel happy and make them feel like what they’re doing is worth it. Construction sites are isolated places. Them being dangerous is a real reason for that. Though people aren’t actually allowed to enter, by making the design “kawaii”  we can remove that unwelcoming feeling locals have for [construction sites], and that’s wonderful. Business meetings have only just begun but I hope for it to come to fruition by next year.

     

     

    Nakagawa: Are you also thinking of expanding overseas?

     

    Kajikawa: I’m thinking within the next 1-2 years.

     

    Nakagawa: I’m really looking forward to seeing “Kawaii” exported overseas from a new angle. I believe it will catch the attention of a lot of people and have a notable synergistic effect. We’re also working on creating key visuals and a film.

     

    Kajikawa: We are aiming for a pop world where coloured poles are characters that move. I get excited just picturing it. I can’t wait for the day when we make it public.

     

     

    ――I’m sure you would agree that when it comes to business, contribution to society is an important aspect. Will your “kawaii” construction sites have societal contributions too?

     

    Kajikawa: It has only just begun so I can only speculate, but the construction industry has a big mission to service infrastructure for the benefit of people’s lives. Plus, if we set forth to add value to “kawaii” elements, something which appeals to people, I think we can contribute a little to this brutal world. We are constantly in charge of 40-50 construction sites in Japan at any given time, so by giving them a “kawaii” outlook, don’t you think it might calm things down a bit?

     

     

    Kajikawa: For example, if pink-dyed construction sites appeared in Japan and around the world, it’s bound to make a lot of people smile. That’s the symbol of Japanese technological strength and culture. It might eventually bolster the presence of Japan throughout the rest of the world. Plus, if people are taking kawaii photos, then they are going to seek out construction sites. A day like that may come, and working at a construction site might become a status. There are many pieces of dreams in the collaboration between kajikawa Construction and ASOBISYSTEM. Our unique tag team which defies industry may shake things up in a unique way.

     

    Interview & Text: Fumihiko Suzuki

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

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