8/27/10 - i.School and Mori Tower

In the morning, I attended a workshop that Ziba Design had developed for students at the University of Tokyo’s Innovation School or i.School.  The i.School was just created a year ago; its development was led by Hiroshi Tamura, who was also the local organizer for EPIC, and the person who invited me.  Tamura is research director at Hakuhodo, a large advertising agency.  His skills and accomplishments are most impressive.

At the workshop, it was fun to be in a design environment once again, with post-its on the walls and so forth.

Over lunch, I attended the rehearsal for an event the following morning, where Hideshi Hamaguchi from Ziba would speak on innovation, and Michael Shanks from Stanford would be discussant (http://michaelshanks.org/).  The two translators wanted to practice.  They were amazing!

In the afternoon, I visited Mori Tower.  One reason was to get copies of my business cards made.  Like an idiot, I had forgotten to fill up my card case before I left, so I only had a few cards with me.  One of the translators told me about a copy shop that could quickly make copies.  It was in Mori Tower, a large building complex near my hotel.

Even better, at the top of Mori Tower, on the 54th floor, was an observation deck.  I was able to walk around and get a fabulous 360-degree view of Tokyo.

These views of the city really helped me get a feeling for it.  I realized that I like Tokyo a lot!  As someone who grew up in LA, I feel comfortable in big cities.  And Tokyo has a light, friendly, accessible feeling – more so than New York, for instance.  The pictures show that it is visually not a dark city.  And the size of the city symbolizes its cosmopolitan spirit and the potential for many subcultures to flourish – I suspect that anything you might be interested in, you could find it in Tokyo.  Which creates a certain kind of freedom.

I also visited the museum in Mori Tower, which had an interesting exhibit on perceptions of nature by Japanese multimedia artists.  My favorite piece was a room representing a forest from underneath the ground.  The “forest floor” was handmade paper.  It had holes you could stick your head through to see the “trees” above.  The “forest floor” was low enough that you had to walk around kind of hunched over.  The artist, Kuribayashi Takashi, is interested in borders and in the transformation of values that results from shifts in perspective when boundaries are transcended.