Taito Ward Culture Industry Tourism Division,
Industry Promotion Section
In Taito ward, which is known as a city of fashion and zakka, a new manufacturing culture is being born, such as collaboration between the historic traditional crafts and young, talented creators.
Photo: Base for manufacturing
“Taito Designers Village”
With the two major sightseeing spots, Ueno and Asakusa, Taito ward is well known as an attractive tourist town with 40 million visitors annually. However, the ward also has a long history as a “manufacturing” town.
Traditional crafts beginning with the Edo period have been passed down through the present. Leather products such as shoes and bags, as well as daily commodities are actively manufactured. Taito ward is currently known as a production area of nationally famous shoes, bags, hats, jewelry, and accessories. Designers and craftspeople from various fields gather and create unique and high quality products.
In order to further enhance the unique industry competitiveness of Taito ward, the ward implements various support plans. One of the bases for support is the “Taito Designers Village” shown in the photo.
Photo: Entrance of Taito Designers Village
“Taito Designers Village” is the first startup support facility in Japan for fashion-related businesses. The village was founded in the former Kojima Elementary School building in 2004, for supporting craftspeople and their skills. In the ten years following its establishment, some 57 companies graduated from there, and half of them are still in business in the ward.
The village has been used as an operating base for young and able designers, as well as for fostering collaborations with local craftspeople. The facility is generally closed to the public since its establishment, but is open to the public once a year. In 2011, the event turned into a town-wide event called “Monomachi”.
Photo: Studio in Monomachi
Since 2011, the three-day “Monomachi” event has been held in the south area where manufacturers and wholesale merchants are traditionally aggregated. Visitors can find the appeals of the “town” and “manufacturing” while walking around the area with a map. The number of visitors is rising every year.
More than 200 entities participated in the 6th Monomachi in 2014, including creators, craftspeople, manufacturers, wholesale dealers, and shops. The event was loaded with studio tours, product sales, manufacturing demonstrations, and food and drink, which facilitated new town-wide communication.
Another event is “A-ROUND”, with the “A” standing for Asakusa. A-ROUND is a festival of manufacturing that covers the broader Asakusa area. The area is home to the shoe industry, and many wholesale dealers, small factories, and showrooms of leather and shoes still exist. The livelihood, history, and new life of manufacturing that is rooted in this town can be found by walking around Asakusa.
Taito ward will continue bolstering these events, with the intention of activating a wide range of industries in addition to the manufacturing industry, as well as tourism.
Taito ward handcrafted studio map
In order to further promote manufacturing in Taito ward, a “Taito ward handcrafted studio map” has been prepared. With the area map of Yanaka, Ueno, and Asakusa, more than 100 studio shops in the ward are currently introduced.
In addition, selected shoes, bags, and small products are sold in the newly opened online shop, “Taito Fashion Zakka Selection”.
By taking into consideration such pilot shop operation, the ward supports active craftspeople and creators.
Mr. Shiratori explains: “When companies develop, new people will increase and the town will be vitalized. With a theme of manufacturing, Taito ward will pursue further development”.
For new manufacturing, especially for creators of fashion and zakka, Taito ward may become a unique stage for dramatic advances.