18.09.2015 2

Fernando Longhi - From Architecture and Urbanism - Lacis/UnB


When I received the news that would go to Japan I did not believe. From over 400 candidates I had been selected to participate in the Innovation Program at the University of Tokyo (Tokyo Innovation Summer Program). The idea to visit the country was not new, my interest in Japan started from the first and one of the only times my Japanese cousins ​​came to Brazil along with my uncle, who for more than thirty years lives with his wife and children there . The chance was unique and I hardly knew what to expect from the other side of the world

There were 42 students, 21 foreign and 21 Japanese at the University of Tokyo, all from different courses and different realities. The interdisciplinary and multicultural environment was admirable, had representatives from all over the world: Finland, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Colombia, United States, Singapore, China, the UK and Germany. The international excellence of character of the event was also challenging my colleagues came from the best universities in the world such as Oxford, Harvard, Stanford and the Royal College of Arts, for example.

There were two intense weeks focused on innovation as the main tool to transform local and global social problems into opportunities. The i.school, an educational project of the University of Tokyo that aims to foster innovative leaders, conducted the workshop which was designed by Hideyuki Horii and Yu Ogawa.

The workshop was divided into two stages: one in Tokyo, where we had lectures and seminars, and another in Tono, where we had the opportunity to create a workshop on innovation for high school students of the city, applying the knowledge gained in the previous period . Thus, we experience two contrasting faces of Japan: the energetic metropolis and the serene Japanese city inland.

The workshop days were useful but somewhat tiresome due to the amount of activities in a short period of time. In Tokyo program were housed at the Komaba campus, taking classes in modern buildings and super champions in energy efficiency. In class, one of the principles more focused by i.school was that creativity could be learned. For this, we were introduced to a number of methodologies to assist us in building innovative ideas of quality and group discussions. We had two study fronts at this stage: one focused on the creation of services - How to attract people to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020? - And another focused on the design of a product of free choice.

The activities were always conducted in groups, which changed according to the proposed task. Usually the day began with a brief theoretical introduction, followed by the preparation and design ideas during the day and two presentations, one middle and one end at the conclusion of each workshop. In a few days until we develop prototypes in less than an hour and improvise skits and performances for the whole team. It was always a two-way challenge: to present a newborn idea clearly and objectively and not having the fear of making mistakes.

The second part of the program was in the city of Tono, Iwate, located in Tohoku, the region most affected by the triple disaster in 2011 which still faces problems related to the events. One of the most discussed issues is the population decline driven by the low perspective of life and work that young people are in small urban centers of the region.

Tono is a town based on subsistence farming and has just over 28,000 inhabitants. The goal of developing an innovation workshop for students from there attempted to show the infinite possibilities that innovative ideas could bring to the city and show a desire for change and revitalization for this population.

This time, we were hosted by the weekend at home sites along the students that would participate in our workshop in the future. This certainly was the best part because the program had a strong contact with the Japanese hospitality and we could share our experiences with the younger, who loved to meet people from around the world.

Organizing the workshop was not easy, but it was exciting to see how far students have come to the end and how we condense all the knowledge acquired in previous weeks. Some students began a little ashamed, but finished presenting their final ideas with enthusiasm and a lot of courage.

An important point of this part of the program was to see the city bustle regarding our presence there. They were curious and there were journalists everywhere who documented the event with great interest. I realized the importance of the event in the city at the end of the program when all the groups presented their innovative ideas to the mayor and the community.

Besides the chance to learn from leading-edge professionals and share experiences with incredible people, I had the opportunity to learn more from Japan and its culture through the eyes of my Japanese colleagues. They always tried to provide the best and most interesting experiences possible, as dinners in their okonomyaki favorite restaurants and stroll in the parks that have marked their childhoods.

I was fascinated by the beauty of Japanese culture. In addition to the fantastic scenery and advanced technology, what impressed me most was the respect for others incorporated into the Japanese day-to-day. Good deeds, the simplest, made a huge difference, like a chain reaction: good deed generating good deed. There, I learned that the next is more important than yourself.