Making Omishima the Best Island to Live On In Japan: Toyko Study Abroad Studio Option
Omishima, in Imabari City, is an island with a population of about 6,400 located in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea. Thirteen hamlets are scattered along the shores of the island, while verdant hills cover the central portion. No extensive development has been conducted at all.
Since the 2011 opening of Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, Imabari, students of the Ito Juku School of Architecture have visited the island and interacted with the residents, especially those who immigrated here to be farmers. However, the island’s population has fallen to half of its onetime peak, and 50% of the residents are 65 and older. If this goes on, the vitality of Omishima may soon be lost.
We are therefore determined to carry out a 10-year plan from 2015 under the slogan Making Omishima the Best Island to Live On in Japan, in order to create a sustainable lifestyle. We will not rely on the power of big corporations. Instead, we will gather the forces of local residents, university students in the region and students of the Ito Juku School of Architecture to carry out numerous small projects. These will result in creating a unique but realistic lifestyle model for people in local areas in Japan.
Renowned Japanese economist Kazuo Mizuno says that while the aim of modern capitalism was to work “faster, farther and more rationally,” Japan needs to experience a paradigm shift to a “slower, more local and more tolerant society” in the coming decades. We concur. We must stop putting the economy ahead of all else, as we did in the 20th century, and establish a model for a pleasant and prosperous lifestyle on Omishima.
To bring this model to fruition, we have established the following projects and goals:
1. Project to revive the path to Oyamazumi Shrine The path from the port to Oyamazumi Shrine has been desolate since the Shimanami Kaido Expressway opened. We will renovate and revive it.
a) We will open a Home-for-All on the street in 2015.
b) We will hold an open-air market on the street.
c) We will renovate empty houses along the street.
2. Project to promote local industries
a) We will establish a network of farmers doing business with individual customers and broaden their market. (We may need to found an NPO.)
b) We plan to establish a winery in the future.
3. Project to improve the transportation system on the island
a) We will examine the possibility of using electric cars for individuals in the future.
b) We will examine the more realistic possibility of using minibuses (like the ones employed in Tokyo’s metropolitan area).
4. Project to create an information network covering our projects on Omishima
a) We will establish a website (Omishima.com).
b) Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture, Imabari will play the role of permanent hub for providing updates on our projects on Omishima.
5. Project to establish lodgings on the island
a) We will build a bathing hut, a barbecue space and cycle stands in the front yard of the Omishima Furusato Ikoi-no-Ie.
b) We will repair and renovate an old house on the path to the shrine, creating a Japanese-style lodging.
c) We will build and open a small hotel with 10 to 20 rooms in the future.
6. Projects for “part-time residents,” or those who live both in their city homes and their places on the island.
a) We will design a simple 33m2 house.
b) We will create shared lodging for weekends.
c) We will renovate Landleben Omishima, an existing agritourism lodge run by Imabari City.
7. Project to fill the island with flowers
a) We will plant flowers in empty lots along the path to the shrine (field mustard or azalea), as well as around Toyo.