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Field Exercise in Sustainability Science (FESS Kashiwanoha) 2021-2022: The Kashiwanoha Monogatari (柏の葉物語) Smart City Stories from Our Town Cultural Mapping Project

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Field Exercise in Sustainability Science (FESS Kashiwanoha) 2021-2022:

The Kashiwanoha Monogatari (柏の葉物語)

Smart City Stories from Our Town Cultural Mapping Project

By Kevin Florentin (D3)

For the first time since its inception in 2015, citizens of Kashiwanoha were recruited as participants and team members of this exercise unit. The University of Tokyo and Urban Design Center Kashiwanoha (UDCK) jointly hosted this year's FESS course in conjunction with the smart city's living laboratory. Eight (8) graduate students from the University of Tokyo and twenty-eight (28) citizens formed three teams for the project from October 2021 to January 2022. Teams worked together within three, four-hour Saturday workshops, and across numerous independent sessions they held.

Kashiwanoha is now home to foreign and local students, workers, and elderly who have stories, experiences, memories, and lifestyles worth sharing. By collecting and visualizing these on a map, they can reflect about what their community is like. Understanding this is important because they can learn about what is valuable to them. They can then strengthen these values to form their identity and know what else is needed to improve the quality of life for their community.

Workshops were conducted to list and visualize special places and stories of Kashiwanoha. These consisted of mapping activities, facilitated discussions, and content creation. Participants were trained and challenged to implement critical thought and design thinking skills. Teams crafted their own interview protocols and questionnaire surveys, which they used to gather information to put on their maps. Finally, teams produced three distinct cultural maps with themes of a Compact and Diverse City, Human-Technology-Nature Co-Existence, and Green Spaces and Artefacts featuring stories of locals. All these contributed to a philosophical inquiry about what makes their community "smart".

For students, citizens supplied invaluable knowledge about their environment and daily encounters in the town. This is in addition to the networks and breadth of perspectives they put on the table. Citizens were amazed by the technical skills and focus that the students exhibited during the sessions. Both conceded that neither could have produced the outputs without contributions from the other.

In the end, participants concluded that while there were a lot of growing pains in this pioneering set-up, it was a worthwhile endeavor that they wished would continue for many years to come. One participant admitted that when he first saw the recruitment materials for the workshop, he tried to search for Kashiwanoha Monogatari on Google Maps and was abruptly disappointed to see only a restaurant come out. He said, "Let this workshop be what Kashiwanoha's story is from now on." Perhaps what he meant, like many who participated said in their exit interviews, was that more collaborative activities that bring together the International and Japanese community closer may be the story of their smart town.

For more details on this project, visit the official website here: https://bit.ly/smartcitystory