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I have really strong memories of our hardcore travels around the island with Terai—going to pick him up at the airport, getting him to climb up mountains, climb down cliff faces. I inherited the USIO Design Project from Kosasa in its first year. It gave me a taste of how hard it is to start things up from scratch. Working as a system engineer for over a decade, I'd been living in a world where black and white were completely distinct: Is the thing working? Or is it not working? So this project was a real challenge for me. In the second year of the project we had to imagine something that had no right or wrong answer. We had to make some assumptions and then decide to go with it! Then there was the USIO Design Project in the third year. The project re-examined the charms of Ishigaki by incorporating external perspectives and revealed to us what was lacking and what we want to try next. Having the USIO project members by our side all the time was very reassuring. This interview is happening in the third year of the project, but Shoma Terai’s words will remain with us for ever. People’s personalities always come out in a project. Both Kosasa and I have added our colors to this project. For example, Kosasa is someone who definitely would not visit a mountain, climb down a cliff, or even ride a bicycle. In such a way, a person’s personality can permeate every part of a project. Hearing these words, I felt that we were able to take one step forwards from Kosasa’s perspective, even though somewhere in my heart I had been thinking: “What if it was Kosasa doing this?” In the third year of the USIO Design Project, we created a booklet—a bilingual booklet in Japanese and the traditional Chinese that is used in Taiwan. With lots of lovely photos and a tasteful texture, the booklet represents the USIO sensibility. Overwhelmed by how beautiful the booklet is, I took several copies and walked around the office…to show off the workmanship. Someone made a comment about what a wonderful island we live on, and this was the feedback that pleased me the most. The charms of our island are easily forgotten when you live in the midst of them. The USIO Design Project re-discovers these. This project was a great success. Then, in the summer of 2016, which was the fourth year after the public offering, the purple yam pies and tuna flakes went on sale. All the ten items were able to see the light of day. Kosasa, who is working 270 km to the west of us, and Terai, who is 2,000 km away to the north of us, had worked so hard on the project. When I think about that, I also think about how much joy this hard work brought to them too. We are all in separate places now—Ishigaki Island, Taiwan, and Tokyo— but I somehow get the feeling that this will lead to a new tide, once again.

Ishigaki City Office
Planning Department, Tourism, Culture, and Sports Bureau Ishigaki City Cultural and Tourism SectionTakahiro Onaga

Since this would involve a staff of about 5000 people, we created a manual so that the staff could also enjoy the project. We brainstormed together about everything, including the flow, devising various strategies and incorporating them, which I think led to our success.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd.
Manager in charge of Redevelopment at the Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi Main StoreMr. Masahiro Kato

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