Innovators Network

Tomohiko Okabe (岡部友彦) - CEO, kotolab. LLC & CEO

Since 2004, Okabe has implemented a neighborhood revitalization project called YOKOHAMA KOTOBUKI STYLE, in the Kotobuki-cho area of Yokohama, 20 minutes south of Tokyo by train. This district is known for their high number of unskilled day laborers who live in cheap lodging houses. Okabe is interested in transforming the area by adding artistic elements to the neighborhood and finding ways to make good use of the area’s resources to create new industries. Essentially, he wants to create new “phenomena” instead of only making “things.” For example, the project called YOKOHAMA HOSTEL VILLAGE, aims to transform cheap lodging houses into youth hostels that cater to foreign backpackers. He also created a promotional movie called KOTOBUKI Promotion, which explains the current situation of the towns and the projects they are working on. Additional projects include: KOTOBUKI, let’s vote for the election campaign, which helped transform the neighborhood by putting up colorful posters encouraging day laborers to vote; and One tsubo (3.3 square meters) outdoor board project, which set up 3.3 square meter shogi boards (Japanese chess board) around town so people in the community could participate in playing shogi. Okabe is a graduate of Tokyo University’s School of Architecture.

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