Building Sustainable Communities in Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi
Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the world's largest megacity.
Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi are three central areas in Tokyo, notable for the Tokyo Station, a central hub of Japan’s railway network. Tokyo Tatemono has called this close-knit area its home headquarters since 1896.
As a next-generation developer aiming to create a sustainable society, Tokyo Tatemono promotes sustainable community building in the Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi districts.
A Business Focus on Improving Sustainability Through an Innovation Ecosystem
Creating an innovation ecosystem is one theme on which Tokyo Tatemono focuses to promote sustainable community building.
An innovation ecosystem is a business environment analogous to a natural ecosystem. Here, collections and collaborations of various players in industry, academia, and government (startups, large corporations, investors, and research institutes, etc.) create a virtuous cycle that cultivates new industry and generates economic growth leading to innovation.
The Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi districts are leading global business centers. The sustainable development of these districts requires the presence of innovation that creates new industry and the support of an ecosystem.
The Foundations of an Innovation Ecosystem, Laid in the Edo Period
Since an innovation ecosystem is formed through the collection and collaboration of a diverse range of players, we could say that the most critical core requirement is a transportation infrastructure to attract these players.
With the establishment of Edo (Tokyo) as the capital of Japan, the Tokugawa shogunate developed the Edo Five Routes. These were five trunk highways for the nation, all originating from Nihonbashi. This led to a tremendous influx of people, goods, and culture from rural areas, and the city developed into a place for the creation of new industry and culture.
At Edo Castle, craftsmen from all over Japan gathered to produce the materials used in samurai residences: tatami mats, fusuma wall panels, armor, and more. Since paintings were often drawn on these fusuma panels, the Kanō school was established in Edo and would become the largest faction in the history of Japanese painting. A number of famed ukiyo-e woodblock artists, including Utagawa Hiroshige, would also reside there, contributing to a flourishing art culture. Other business-minded people created quick and easy dishes to satisfy the hunger of people who came alone to Tokyo to work in these industries. These dishes, including stall-based soba noodles, sushi, and more, resulted in a burgeoning Edo food culture.
Flow of Materials and Culture in the Edo Period
Transportation Infrastructure Supporting Innovation
Improvements in transportation infrastructures have significant influence on the creation and cultivation of new industry and culture, or in other words, the promotion of innovation.
From the Edo period to the present day, the Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi districts have benefited from an overwhelmingly ample transportation infrastructure compared to other cities. These districts are the hub of the national railway network (especially given the presence of Tokyo Station), long-distance bus network terminals, subway networks, highway networks, and so on. Future enhancements are also planned, including BRT networks and new subway lines.
The development of transportation infrastructure requires a great deal of time and investment of social capital. Only a limited number of districts can host this infrastructure, and these districts remain central hubs over a long period of time.
The Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi areas boast a significant advantage in that they already have a transportation infrastructure, the core requirement for innovation, in place.
The flow of people, goods, and money brought by this transportation infrastructure has resulted in an economic benefit stemming from the concentration of businesses.
This history has made the Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi area the greatest urban economic zone in Japan. This centralization is unparalleled in scale, and the gathering of such a great number of talented people and the resulting collective knowledge brought together is a source of valuable innovation that cannot be found elsewhere.
Location and Functions in the Yaesu/Nihonbashi/Kyobashi Areas
These areas enjoy the highest accessibility of any place in Japan, directly connected to Tokyo Station, the central hub of Japan's railway network, as well as long-distance bus networks. Together, these areas not only function as a domestic hub, connecting to Japan's various regions, but also as an international hub, thanks to connections to the Narita and Haneda airports via the Toei Asakusa Line.
Richness in Culture That Attracts the Creative Class
Another strength of the Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi areas is their rich cultures.
As indicated by urban economist Richard Florida in his Creative Capital theory, people from the creative class, those who drive innovation, tend to prefer traditional, firmly rooted cultures. In other words, the more an area possesses a rich, unique culture, the easier it is to attract the creative class.
The Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi areas are districts rich in art and art culture. Paintings and other crafts have been nurtured here since the Edo period. Even today, this area is home to Japan's densest collection of antique art, galleries, and museums. These districts are also home to a food culture that brings a richness to daily life. As Japan's unique food culture eveloped here (sushi, soba, grilled eel, and so on) so, too, did storefronts. Even today, these districts are home to a number of shops whose genealogies can be traced back to the Edo period. Development as a business district led to further concentration and development of the food and beverage industry. Now, a number of diverse, high-quality restaurants are utilized for business meetings and private soirées. The concentration of various food-related industries, from food manufacturing to wholesale, formed the foundation of an ecosystem that integrates culture and economy.
Source: Nihon-bashi uoichi han'ei no zu (Illustration of Prosperity at the Nihonbashi Fish Market), by Kuniyasu, National Diet Library The fish market that formed along the northern bank of the Nihonbashi River featured a collection of fish caught not only in the seas off Edo, but also from the waters of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka Prefectures.
Toward Developing an Innovation Ecosystem
The Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi areas feature a number of factors critical for an innovation ecosystem. These factors include a strong transportation infrastructure, large-scale business clusters, and rich cultural characteristics. As any of these factors require considerable time to form, these areas possess great competitive advantages over other districts. Today, Tokyo Tatemono works to develop this innovation ecosystem further by infusing this already solid foundation with new elements.
Soliciting Startups and Promoting Open Innovation With a Focus on Social Issues
New ideas must be developed and offered in order to stimulate industry. Startups serve society by fulfilling this role.
The agility and speed of startups within existing industries can lead to unprecedented innovation.
In 2018, Tokyo Tatemono launched operations at xBridgeTokyo, a startup studio serving as a hub to for star-level startups in their early phases. Since its launch, xBridge-Tokyo has been home to more than 20 startups, aiding them in growing their various businesses.
Tokyo Tatemono also maintains and operates facilities that serve as hubs for open innovation. At City Lab Tokyo, we help create a decarbonized society by providing a forum and operating programs that encourage cooperation between the various players involved in community development. At TOKYO FOOD LAB, we leverage the food industry hub in the Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi districts to attract new players from Japan and overseas.
Here, we strive toward food innovation, including initiatives for resolving food shortages, which is a critical issue facing global society. At Kitchen Studio SUIBA, we use food to promote lively activity and communication, supporting players in the field of cuisine as they take on new challenges. TOKYO IDEA EXCHANGE hosts a wet lab equipped with 3D printers and other machine tools to attract new creators. All of these centers form a distinctive network, sharing a common theme of working to resolve various social issues, from local to global.
These Tokyo Tatemono-led initiatives have received strong praise from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and were officially certified for the Regional Council by Authorized Regions (PR Support) in last fiscal year's innovation ecosystem promotion support project.
This startup studio aims to support the creation and growth of startups, as well as the formation of a community where users can share knowledge and expertise with each other.
City Lab TOKYO
An open innovation platform building sustainable cities and societies. This forum provides programs that tackle three perspectives: knowledge provision, community-building, and business generation support. The approximately 300m² of floor area at this facility includes meeting rooms, a salon, and rental spaces.
Kitchen Studio SUIBA
A kitchen studio using cuisine as catalyst for liveliness. This facility encourages liveliness through food content, which naturally drives the creation of communication, regardless of generation or gender.
TOKYO FOOD LAB
A community hub offering food education and hands-on experience in a cutting-edge plant farm. Fusing technology, science, cooking methods from all over the world, and different ways to enjoy cuisine, TOKYO FOOD LAB aims to solve social problems shared globally and to build communities that support the SDGs.
Mechanism for Innovation Ecosystem Growth
The Brookings Institute of the United States identifies three critical elements for the formation of innovation ecosystems: various networking programs (networking assets); infrastructure, offices, food and drink establishment, and open innovation bases (physical assets), and a variety of players that act as economic assets.
If we overlay the Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi districts onto the framework of these three elements, we can see that the value of these districts in terms of economic assets can be increased significantly by adding a concentration of startup ventures to the existing cluster of businesses.
As for physical assets, a large-scale aggregation of offices and stores already exists on top of an overwhelmingly superior transportation infrastructure in these districts.
The addition of new open innovation bases here and planned future large-scale redevelopment projects will significantly expand the district's physical assets. Networking assets are also expected to be strengthened, triggered by the programs operated at each open innovation base.
As the innovation ecosystem begins to grow in this way, we will see a self-sustaining, sustainable development cycle in which a variety of players, including large innovation-driven companies, cluster with each other. These conditions are also favorable for large-scale redevelopment projects, such as Tokyo Tatemono's Type-1 Urban Redevelopment Project in the Yaesu 1-Chome East Area in front of Tokyo Station and the Type-1 Urban Redevelopment Project in the Yaesu 1-Chome North area. Further, these facilities can also contribute as a space for new players to utilize and play an active role.
Tokyo Tatemono aims to realize the sustainable development of both our community and our own businesses through the creation of an innovation ecosystem.
Three Assets for an Innovation Ecosystem
Companies, institutions, and organizations that promote, foster, and support an environment rich in innovation.
Public and privately-owned spaces designed and organized to stimulate new and higher levels of connectivity, collaboration and innovation.
The relationships between actors, such as individuals, firms and institutions, that have the potential to generate, sharpen, and accelerate the advancement of ideas.
Source: Brookings Institute
New Innovation Ecosystems Built Through Redevelopment
Valuing Familiar Comfort, While Creating World-Class Communities
The Yaesu, Nihonbashi, and Kyobashi areas comprise a business hub that drives the Japanese economy. However, there is a very familiar, human face to these districts, including business people who operate long-standing local restaurants. A number of companies have been operating in this district for many years, not only because of the convenience of growth-supporting transportation and advantages stemming from a collection of companies, but also likely due to the comfort of the district that puts those who work here at ease. At Tokyo Tatemono, we promote the development of an attractive, world-class community by cultivating an innovation ecosystem that encourages business growth while valuing the cultural characteristics unique to this district.
Supporting Sustainable Communities Through Disaster Mitigation and Environmental Impact Reduction
Strengthening Disaster Mitigation
Disaster mitigation is an essential element when considering the development of a sustainable community.
Countermeasures against disasters caused by extreme weather driven by climate change, as well as earthquakes and other causes, are important elements of community development. These are also social issues that are attracting more attention due to the increasing frequency of major disasters. Major disasters not only damage office buildings, but also threaten the lives and livelihoods of people who live and work in the community, causing damage to the entire region. At Tokyo Tatemono, we work to create a safer and more secure city by strengthening our disaster mitigation capabilities in cooperation with neighboring companies, local residents, neighborhood associations, and other local organizations. Here, we strive to address disaster mitigation at the regional level.
A major issue in urban areas with high concentrations of large corporate offices is when commuters are unable to return home during a disaster. Disasters can also damage power grids and power supply facilities, potentially leading to large-scale power outages.
Large-scale office buildings built by Tokyo Tatemono have prepared support mechanisms in anticipation of receiving stranded commuters, including resource stockpiles and emergency manuals. For future large-scale redevelopment projects, we are strengthening business continuity functions via emergency-use power generation equipment, cogeneration systems*, and networked local air conditioning facilities to make regional energy use more efficient and less impactful on the environment.
*Energy conservation system that effectively uses heat from electric power generation for heating, air conditioning, etc.
Reducing Environmental Impact
Tokyo Tatemono development projects incorporate a variety of environmental measures based on the Group Environmental Policy.
One example is the Tokyo Square Garden, a large-scale complex building with direct access to Kyobashi Station on the Ginza Line. Here, we have installed and currently operate the Kyobashi Environmental Station. This facility aims for environmentally friendly community development to help create a decarbonized society. The station provides advice on energy conservation measures to local smalland medium-sized building owners. We also provide local residents opportunities and forums to learn about and take action related to environmental problems. We also use this facility to present the various environmental technology initiatives employed at Tokyo Square Garden.
Even at the Tokyo Tatemono Yaesu Building, which has served as Tokyo Tatemono's headquarters since May 2020, we strive to reduce environmental impact through efficient energy management, greening, and other initiatives.
Through these efforts, Tokyo Tatemono aims to create an attractive, sustainable community that appeals to people and companies around the world. We strive for progress, even in the face of major social shifts, such as international competition between cities, a shrinking workingage population, and diversifying work and lifestyles.
Aikasa, an Umbrella Sharing Service in the Tokyo Station Area
In partnership with Nature Innovation Group Co., Ltd., the Tokyo Station City Management Council, and other organization and company stakeholders in the Tokyo Station area, Tokyo Tatemono launched the Aikasa umbrella sharing service. Started in December 2019, this is first service of its kind in Japan. Users can borrow stylish umbrellas (decorated with old-style map art) simply by scanning a QR code in mobile app at the more than 700 Aikasa Spots nationwide.
This service is aimed at providing hospitality to both area workers and tourists, as well to eliminate the issue of plastic waste related to plastic umbrella trash.