Introducing the culture of Kamakura to the world
Vice Chairman, Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai
CEO, Brain Trust from The Sun
Encounter with the cheerful Tominaga
He is the CEO of Brain Trust from The Sun (hereinafter “BTS”), the core company of Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai. He met Tominaga, who is currently the chairman of Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai, when BTS launched an incubation office and was selected as a model project for elderly employment by Tokyo Metropolitan Goverment.
“Tominaga’s senior started a job at our company and said, ‘I know someone in Kamakura that loves to have fun. He shapes surfboards, lived in New Caledonia for surfing, and he’s experienced in attending tourists.’ He brought Tominaga to discuss the business. He was over 60 years old at the time, but he seemed to be young and responsible. He was a cheerful man, so we decided to collaborate,” Okawa explained. We wanted to rent empty properties and turn them into works Tominaga can be proud of, just like his surfboards.
BTS is designated as a model project by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as a small-scale Specified Joint Real Estate Ventures. In order to revive long-term vacant properties, the government deregulates the Specified Joint Real Estate Ventures, and entrust private real estate developers like BTS, to invite investors to revive old houses and vacant properties. “I think more real estate companies like us will be trying to solve the problem of vacant houses,” says Okawa.
Our mission is to increase the income of rimaryproducers.
While the purpose of the Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai is to create experiential programs and tourism for farmers and fishermen, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries expects them to make efforts to raise the income of primary producers.
“Inbound tourists stay at our facilities in Kamakura, and go to nearby restaurants to eat. The ingredients are purchased locally, such as shirasu from Koshigoe fishing port, and Kamakura vegetables from local farmers. Our mission is to appeal Kamakura, and to encourage inbound visitors to stay and eat delicious local food, which will lead to income for primary producers. This is our major goal.”
They are currently working on building a local network.
“Luckily, Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai was established with the help of many. Real Shot, who Tominaga’s knew from T-REEF Surfboard, took pictures, Smile Garden renovated, and Kuroki, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Young Entrepreneurs Group and owner of Restaurant Orange where Tominaga’s wife worked supported the efforts. The business is a result of everyone’s support. Just like Tominaga says ‘Welcome to Kamakura’ to his customers, we want to say ‘Welcome to Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai’ to people in Kamakura, real estate agents who work to solve issues with vacant properties, and those who aim for regional revitalization, so that we can all work together.”
AMBER, the iconic facility of BTS, cost a lot to break down the old house and entirely renovate to be reused. When Okawa was looking for ways to fund the renovation and operation of the facility, he found a grant program by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. To raise income for primary producers, funds were granted for renovation. Since AMBER had already been completed, the subsidy is being used to produce promotional videos for Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai and the city.
In order for tourists to keep coming back after 2020
There are currently five trainees at Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai who promote the lodging service, update social media and clean up the facilities. Most of the trainees are also housewives and mothers based in and around Kamakura. They are able to express their opinions they have through living in Kamakura, communicate Kamakura’s charms while raising children in the city, and introduce their lives in Kamakura to the world.
Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai does not own a farm in Kamakura nor does it engage in agriculture. “Nouhaku (farm stay)” is like a slogan to encourage many people around the world to come stay in Kamakura and experience eating Kamakura’s agricultural and marine products, and keep coming back even after 2020.
Some cities are concerned about the post-Olympics recession, but Okawa, who knows the real estate industry, is not too worried about Kamakura.
“Apartments in Tokyo may be affected, but on the other hand, Kamakura is highly educated, has beautiful mountains and seas, and is strongly branded. The only sport event that is taking place in Kamakura is yachts, so I don’t think there will be a sudden drop in the Kamakura brand after the Olympics. Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai is here to support the tourism after 2020, so we will continue our PR efforts for rickshaws, Kamakura vegetables, shirasu and Koshigoe Fishing Port.”
Mission as an important part of the Kamakura community
There are many edgy organizations, unique culture and contents in Kamakura. The long-term goal of the Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai is to recreate such attractive cities throughout Japan. This does not mean creating a Kamakura-like city in different places, but as people are inspired by the activities of Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai, they may try to make similar efforts to take advantage of the charms of their own region to attract tourists.
“We received inquiries about how to obtain subsidies for Nouhaku and how to restore vacant houses using small-scale specified joint real estate ventures. We hope that this will be a productive movement in the medium to long term, with more inquiries coming to Chairman Tominaga and other professionals like the filmmaker, Real Shot, and Smile Garden, who are experts in renovation and gardening.”
Based on the dots and lines that Okawa draws in his rough blueprint, members of the Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai would plan the foundation, build pillars, walls and roofs, and shape them as in building a house.
A message from Okawa to the people of Kamakura:
“It may sound too much to say we are building Kamakura, but I think we are an important part of the Kamakura community. Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai was warmly welcomed by the once-closed community. We would be grateful if many people would continue to connect and partner with us.”
Kamakura Nouhaku Kyogikai happily accepts questions and requests regarding participation. Please feel free to contact.