Main menu

Re-editing the Stories of Ishigaki Island USIO DESIGN PROJECT #3

Ishigaki Island is a popular tourist spot that is visited by over a million people each year. Starting with the question: “Is it possible to remain a place that is loved by everyone, while maintaining the precious environment at the same time?”
Executed over the past two years, USIO DESIGN PROJECT re-discovered the charms of Ishigaki Island from the point of view of outsiders and shared them with the world. The third and final year of the project took on the theme of re-editing. Working in cooperation with local editors, the re-discovered charms of Ishigaki Island were consolidated into a website and a booklet so that they could be shared them with a large number of domestic and international travelers.

The website and booklet offer visitors to Ishigaki Island a new perspective on travel. Rather than just being something transient, the project, which can be characterized as “region x design,” attempted to create a mechanism whereby the charms of the island could be continually discovered.

Project description

  • Tasks / Purpose
    ・Get information that had been reaching a particular demographic through the two-year long「USIO DESIGN PROJECT」out to a wider demographic
    ・With the increase in place-specific tourism and budget airlines, an increasing number of tourists do not notice the true charms of the island
    ・Creating a sustainable mechanism that can be self-run by the project owner, Ishigaki City
  • Approach
    ・Planning and production of「ISHIGAKI NOW」 a website focusing on experiences with an Ishigaki-flavor
    Guiding travel experiences that are full of the Ishigaki-flavor that was re-discovered over the past two years of the project
    ・The creation of a professional editorial team with multiple external perspectives
    ・The translation of all articles into traditional Chinese for Taiwanese tourists
    ・The release of photographs that were taken throughout the project through a Creative Commons license
    ・Planning and production of ISIGAKI NOW / journal, a booklet that is distributed to travelers at the starting point of their journey to act as a guide to the website
    ・A project design with a high level of anticipated sustainability after the conclusion of the USIO DESIGN PROJECT
  • Outcomes
    ・Number of appearances in media: 32 media
    News and general newspapers: 32
    Overseas media: 7
    Design media in Japan: 10

    ・受賞歴
    1. Japan Typography Yearbook 2015, selected for entry
    (Package division, Logotype/symbol mark division) [Brown Rice Milk]
    2. Japan Package Design Award 2015, selected for entry (General beverage division) [Brown Rice Milk]
    3. Japan Package Design Award 2015, selected for entry (Food division) [Mother’s Andansu Miso Paste]
    4. Japan Package Design Award 2015, selected for entry (General beverage division) [Island Herbal Tea]
    5. Ritou Fair 2014 Okinawa Prefecture Excellent Specialty Products [Brown Sugar Ginger Syrup]
    6. NY Type Directors Club Yearbook 2015, selected for entry [Brown Rice Milk]

「ISHIGAKI NOW」, a website focussing on experiences

A website for people on the island to feel the island

Many guide books and websites providing information about Ishigaki Island as a tourist destination already exist. The aim with ISHIGAKI NOW was to get information out to general travelers about particular places and how they can be enjoyed Ishigaki-style, rather than encouraging people to make a round of the spots listed in the guide book, like the kind of stamp rallies that are popular in Japan.

The website aims to create deeper experiences of Ishigaki Island and for users to gain perspectives that will allow them to feel a new Ishigaki-flavor, moment by moment. This is achieved by directing users to the website via the entrance page on the island’s free Wi-Fi service and by displaying recommended content that changes depending on the time of day that the website is visited.

Information on current weather conditions and the phase of the moon is displayed in the top-left section of the website in order to produce a live feeling. In particular, information on the phase of the moon is acquired via an API and is updated in real time so as to express the unique activities on Ishigaki Island that are closely connected to the waxing and waning of the moon.

A multi-perspective, professional editorial team

A team of creators was formed in line with the principles of “diversity” and “outsider perspective,” which acted as keywords through the project. In order to access both a foreigner’s and a traveler’s perspective, the project worked with Lucas Badtke-Berko, editor-in-chief of『PAPERSKY』, a magazine whose concept is that of an in-flight magazine that is read on the ground. The local island perspective was provided by Yufuko Matsushima, who writes for Momoto, a magazine whose editorial department is based on the island. The third of the creators was 「Gear8」a Hokkaido-based direction and production team that is highly experienced with in-bound tourists from Asia. With all their experience in getting information out about various attractions to both domestic and international readers, the members of editorial team were able to complete the local research for 50 articles over the course of a week.

Getting the word out in traditional Chinese. Courting Taiwan

Ishigaki Island is actually closer to Taiwan than the main island of Okinawa. More than 250,000 Taiwanese tourists visit Ishigaki each year, and a lot of cultural exchange has occurred between the two islands throughout history. To enable tourists from Taiwan to gain a deeper understanding about Ishigaki Island, all the content is being developed in tradition Chinese, rather than in English.

A photo library available for everyone to use free of charge

Four hundred photographs were selected and re-edited from all the photographs that were taken over the course of the 3-year project. These have been made available for public use through a photo library under a Creative Commons (CC) license. The photos in the library can be searched according to color, place, or category and are available as a resource that anyone can use when they want to share information about Ishigaki, whether from the island or elsewhere. The library is also expected to be used by the Ishigaki City Cultural and Tourism Section as a PR tool in response to queries from external bodies.

ISIGAKI NOW / journal, a sightseeing guidebook for people on Ishigaki island right now

Getting to know the real Ishigaki Island at your arrival and departure point.

The project published a new paper booklet, 「ISHIGAKINOW / journal」, which promotes the idea of visitors to Ishigaki Island traveling around by slowly taking in the stories and atmosphere of different places, rather than by making a speedy tour of all the island’s so-called attractions. The booklet is available in places such as the airport, harbor, and hotels, to provide travelers with an opportunity to take note right at the starting point of their visit.

The booklet has also been designed in a size that makes it easy for travelers to carry in their bag while moving around the island. Featuring colorful photographs, the simple design is more in the vein of a photography book than a tourist information magazine, with the intention that tourists will want to pick up a copy when they notice it in places like tourist information offices that have lots of leaflets. By producing the booklet to a level of quality that will make visitors want to take their copy home with them, we can expect a ripple-on effect to extend to family and friends, even after the Ishigaki holiday is over. Of course, all the articles are written in traditional Chinese as well, just as they are on the website.

Approach to sustainability

The photo library that is available to the public free of charge through a CC license functions as a mechanism for the photographs to be able to be used, by individuals and organizations alike, even after the conclusion of the project. By coordinating with flickr, an external service, we have enabled our client, Ishigaki City Office, to keep adding to the collection in the future.

Also, because the articles were created in collaboration with the locally-based editorial department at Momoto magazine, new articles can continue to be written on-site, even after Loftwork Inc. has left the project.

Even though the website may not be able to be updated so frequently, the addition of the Instagram hashtag (#ishigakinow)works to deliver real-time information about Ishigaki Island right now.

Much of what was done with the ISHIGAKINOW website and the ISHIGAKINOW / journal (booklet) was designed with a high level of consciousness about sustainability, in terms of considerations such as how things could be continued at a reasonable pace even after the conclusion of the project.







Interview with the project director

A project to end the project?

─ What triggered the start-up of the USIO DESIGN PROJECT?

Terai:
It all started with talks with the people at Ishigaki City Office. It was noted that while their past activities did get feedback on the product and the initiative, the extent to which information gets out is limited. In past activities, the city office paid particular attention to the story and the process in getting information out, but this did not allow for things to be communicated fully. Ishigaki City Office felt it wanted to get more of a message out about appealing foods, nice smells, places people would want to go,and so on.

The message over the past two years was aimed more at creators and early adoptors. We decided to use the same material, translate it in a way that would reach what you would call the “general traveler" and get the message out to them. This was the start of「ISHIGAKI NOW」, which occupies the third year of the project.

Shoma Terai, Senior Creative Director

However, while we used this word “general traveler,” our way of seeing things at both Loftwork Inc. and Ishigaki City Office was very much Ishigaki-focused. We needed to bring in outsider perspectives. We asked the editor-in-chief of PAPERSKY※ to come on board. PAPERSKY has been working at getting their content out widely in the form of a magazine, and we felt this would make up for what was lacking on our side. We leave content creation up to PAPERSKY. They sniff things out and select topic areas at their discretion.

※PAPERSKY(a magazine whose concept is that of an inflight magazine that is read on the ground : http://www.papersky.jp/

With this project, we are also challenging ourselves in terms of the way that we end the project.

Kazue Nakata (with Loftwork Inc. until 2015), who was previously involved with the project, was working on an article entitled “Ways of Concluding Regional Projects.” While running the project, I was thinking the whole time about how it should be ended, so when I read the article, it really surprised me that Kazue somehow knew what I had been thinking about (laughs).

─ I see. And this was the kind of project where you think about how it will carry on, even after the project is finished.

Terai:
That's right. Even though things are not updated frequently in the way that Web media is, it’s a living thing.

The project has been designed in such a way that, if it were to somehow continue, it could be updated properly.This naturally applies to the website and the visuals. And in terms of the project management system, because we created the project working with the editorial department of the local Okinawan magazine Momoto, even after Loftwork departs from the project, the tone and manner are shared on the island, so information can be updated, primarily by Ishigaki City Office.

─ In other words, the project was designed so that locals would be able to work independently without hindrance; it's not not some kind of transient thing.

Terai:
When I first spoke to Chiaki Hayashi (Loftwork Inc. Representative Director) about the project, I said I wanted to make it something that could be continued, even if the name USIO were to disappear. I did not want for it to be all about this name USIO. I wanted for something with substance to remain.

In terms of the continuation of the project, we’ve also taken on Instagram. The Instagram hashtag #ishigakinow is displayed on the top page of the website. So even if the website is not updated per se, users can still feel the real, “right now” of Ishigaki. This was also done on the assumption that Ishigaki City Office saying to people: “We’re on Instagram, so please upload with the hashtag #ishigakinow” will also function as a way for them to communicate with travelers and residents of the island. This is why we also made cards to introduce #ishigakinow.

We stopped updating the actual website in March 2016, but #ishigakinow has already had over 1,700 posts, and these have attracted over 2,000 likes.

Design for the experience of visiting the website while on the island

─This is all about having people come to notice the charms of Ishigaki and having them actually come to the island and experience it, right?

Terai:
Of course that’s a part of it, although the website was not actually created for people to look at before they come to visit Ishigaki. We want people to visit the website while they are on the island. Of course, we don’t mind at all if people take a look separately, before their visit, but this is not the main concept.

The website is for people who are on the island already and are wondering what to do, perhaps because they have a bit of time to spare or came on a budget airline without a plan. Or people might have done a search on something about the spot they’re in, accessed our information and realized they could spend their time doing this or that—just to give you a bit of an idea.

─ I see. But the website doesn’t come up when you search for “Ishigaki Island.”

Terai:
In terms of Internet searches, “Ishigaki Island” is too much of a big word for our site to come up in search results. Of course we thought about this carefully too, and that’s why we’ve also created the booklet, which you can be physically picked up. We also arranged for "ISHIGAKI NOW” to come up as a banner on the first page of the island’s free Wi-Fi service, which has secured us a kind of “lead wire” to the website. When visitors access Wi-Fi after arriving on the island, the first thing they see is this “lead wire” to the site.

─ It’s interesting that you don’t need to think about winning the SEO battle.

Terai:
(Laughs). Well, it’s such a major tourist spot and big word. In this kind of place where you can expect SEO folks to be in fierce competition with each other, you can’t really win, even if you create a new website and try to get into the game.

─So that’s why the website aims to target people who are already on the island.

Terai:
Well, take for example, all those people who come to Ishigaki from China or Taiwan on cruises. They travel around the main spots on large tourist buses and eat together in big restaurants. We wanted to do something about this kind of travel consumption.

We wanted for people like these to notice that there were all sorts of fun ways to spend their time here after having arrived on the island. We wanted to provide them with the opportunity to decide not to get back on that tour bus, to travel around the island in their own way, instead. Or to come to visit the island again as independent travelers, who are here to take it slowly.

If we make an appeal to people when they’re still in Taiwan, by getting them to look at the website and consider a trip here, there’s still going to be a lot of distance. But if these people are already on Ishigaki, we felt that we could get the information to them properly, in a thorough way, and that they would likely remember it.

So, with the booklet as well, we have not crammed it full of all sorts of information, but have created it in the style of a photography book. People will find it sitting on their bed after they check in to their hotel and go up to their room. Leafing through the booklet, they are going to find it beautiful and will get the feeling that they’d like to try something that’s in there. We want for this kind of thing to be the catalyst.

We’ve also been conscious about creating the booklet in a size that is easy to carry around, and we also want visitors to think that they’d like to take it home with them and look at it again there.

Essential questions that emerged after a long relationship with each other

─ You’ve created a Creative Commons library, have been thinking in terms of having visitors discover things while on the island, and created the kind of booklet that people will take home with them. You’ve created something that will remain, that will carry on, even after the project has ended, and it’s all very well thought out. Where did the idea about all of this carrying on into the future come from?

Terai:
Well, it didn’t just bubble up from somewhere inside me. After lots of drinking and talking with Shuntaro Kosasa and Takahiro Onaga from Ishigaki City Office and with people from Ishigaki, and after taking part in various activities, we got the sense of what wouldn’t work and what we’d like to try. It kind of emerged naturally like that. It’s not that I was specifically required to create something sustainable.

Of course, I’d also like to continue with this, if it’s possible. But a three-year milestone is major, and so I was also in favor of bringing the project to a close for now. On the Ishigaki City Office side, they had some concerns about whether they could continue the project or not, so I thought in terms of a project scale that could be continued without too much trouble in terms of budget and resources.

─ I expect that it was also a good idea to not over-determine the goal. If you have an aim and set a goal for everyone to go for, I get the feeling a lot of good ideas are just not going to come up.

Terai:
We’re not talking about what you make the deliverables. We didn’t make the booklet because we were asked to. Rather, we had a large-scale aim that we shared, and to fulfill that, we realized that we’d best create a booklet. With a standard job, things don’t usually go like this, but we'd been communicating rather frequently over the three years of the project—so much so that project team member would send job-related messages using LINE (laughs).

But when you’re in this kind of close communication over a long time, I feel that you naturally come to a reach common ground in terms of what it is that you are making and the essentials that need to be thought about.

─ I see. So the essential questions emerged after this long-term exchange. The project has come to an end for the time being, although it looks like it will continue on in some way.

Voice of Customer

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

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
Taipei Representative
Shuntaro Kosasa

Though I work in Taipei now, I can say that this project sparked something for me. Let’s remember that for we Ishigaki folks, our Taiwanese neighbour is actually geographically closer to us than Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture. We took this perspective seriously from the very first stage of the project.

ISHIGAKI NOW is the product that emerged from the USIO Design Project, and the Ishigaki Island stories that were re-edited for the website have captured the interest of people in Taiwan.

We have set up a feature corner in the popular Taipei restaurant Hao Chu, and we have had inquiries about the process of running the project from regional governments in Taiwan. I feel that this interest has come from various angles, and is not just about Ishigaki as a mere “travel destination.”

Working with the people at Loftwork Inc. was very exciting. While it may sound a bit odd, I feel that we were able to take on various challenges in the spirit of being part of the same team. They were colorful, intelligent, and friendly—which is ideal.

With all my gratitude★

Voice of Customer

Ishigaki City OfficePlanning Department, Tourism, Culture, and Sports Bureau Ishigaki City Cultural and Tourism Section
Takahiro Onaga

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 OfficeProject Manager, Tourism and Culture Department, Planning Division
Mr. Shuntaro Kosasa

Though I work in Taipei now, I can say that this project sparked something for me. Let’s remember that for we Ishigaki folks, our Taiwanese neighbour is actually geographically closer to us than Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture. We took this perspective seriously from the very first stage of the project.

ISHIGAKI NOW is the product that emerged from the USIO Design Project, and the Ishigaki Island stories that were re-edited for the website have captured the interest of people in Taiwan.

We have set up a feature corner in the popular Taipei restaurant Hao Chu, and we have had inquiries about the process of running the project from regional governments in Taiwan. I feel that this interest has come from various angles, and is not just about Ishigaki as a mere “travel destination.”

Working with the people at Loftwork Inc. was very exciting. While it may sound a bit odd, I feel that we were able to take on various challenges in the spirit of being part of the same team. They were colorful, intelligent, and friendly—which is ideal.

With all my gratitude★

Project Team

Cotact Us

Related Service

Ishigaki City OfficePartnership

&