Koriyama city once flourished as a post town in Edo period. The city has grown up the biggest population in Fukushima Pref. because of the accessible location. Many merchants and governors used to commute from Edo to Koriyama via a road called "Oushu-Kaido." We still can see some Noren curtains in front of the entrance of old Japanese stores "Shinise" which have opened since the Edo period in the shopping street of Koriyama City. However, the Japanese economics and culture have changed so much than before, and it causes of taking the Noren curtain down from the shop's entrance which means many Shinise stores permanently closed.
How can we discover the narratives of Koriyama city? This project started to re-explore the history (Past) of Shinise stores, reconsider the role of old stores and community space (Present) in the district and re-deliver the narratives to Koriyama people (Future). Five Shinise stores cooperated to this project. I redesigned Yagou -Japanese brand mark and Noren curtains for them. The artworks were exhibited at Asaka History Museum in 2016. Many audiences visited the exhibition to pass through the Noren curtain and re-explored stories of their city.
※MADEDANAI = A dialect of Fukushima Pref. which means "to complete a work carefully and create the best quality."
Wakuya has been in Omote-Sando Street for 230 years. The Wakuya hotel used to be a place many visitors came along and shared their stories with others. Even though hotel business was the primary industry of Koriyama City, the amount of hotel has decreased day by day. Despite Wakuya has changed his business to crafts shop, the 12th owner expressed his aspiration that he wants to get back a community place like before.
Wakuya in Japanese is 和久屋 yet; it was 湧屋 long time ago. 湧 connotes spring, energising, generating idea and excitement. I associated this letter with a new concept that Wakuya turns back to the community place like spring where a bunch of people would gather to share their ideas. The place would also be full of energy. The under arrow of this logo is referred to the previous Yagou which is called Yamani.
Onoya was an ironmonger in Omachi Shopping Street. Local people used to visit this shop and had a chat with neighbours. The small ironmonger shop was an important community place for locals. The shop has already closed due to shrinking the industry at Koriyama. Internet services gradually replaced to retail stores. A big home centre became much convenient to go for construction workers rather than driving a car to the narrow Shopping Streets. The 21st owner had suffered from the dramatic change of customer's tendency.
The new design concept is "Reminding the role of Onoya that was a HUB in the local community." The top of the logo shows the same roof shape as the previous Yagou mark which expresses the history of Onoya. The right-hand side part means "Connecting people" and "Various architectural parts" can be seen the left-hand side.
A Kimono store, Iseya nicknamed Ko-Iseya which means "the oldest shop" has hung a Noren curtain on the entrance of the store over five hundred years. The Japanese Kimono market had been getting smaller and fewer customers in the Shopping Street than ever has given serious impact to Ko-Iseya. When I looked up the long history of Ko-Iseya, an impressive story was found from Atago Shrine that was about the 7th owner, a samurai, Hikosou who worked at Kira Kouzukenosuke's house as a secretary.
The plot called "Chushingura" is the most famous and popular legend in Japan. In the story, Hikosou was said he was one of the victims of this issue. He was saved his life by a big fox "Oinari-Sama." The Fox brought him back to Koriyama City on the day, and he determined to start Kimono store instead of spending the rest of his life as a Samurai. I created a continuous story for a new logo what if he came to this era to say something to us. He gives many questions to reconsider about this city.
When someone puts a stamp on a contract, s/he can be standing on a turning point in their life. The 3rd president of Daimaru Mannendo has encouraged his customers who order a new stamp by creating a bespoke stamp. He mentioned that "I have no idea the circumstance how the customers use the stamp after they receive it from me. Then only thing what I can do is to wish their success and progress." Last few decades, many stamp shops closed in Japan because consumers have become much focus on low price than high quality. This new design shows 一(Ichi) which mean first or one in Japanese. I imagined a situation that a man determines to contract a critical state and stamp on it. The job of the craftsman is to support this one moment of someone's life. I wrote more than hundred 一(ichi) from top to bottom edge on papers as well as the motion of putting a stamp on a contract sheet because wanted to express determination.
Kashiwaya is one of the leading sweets companies in Japan which has contributed to developing the Shopping Street of Koriyama City. They create the space and time for a short break as well as selling Manju itself. There is a tea room in a Japanese house where family or visitor gather to drink tea, to eat sweets and to share topics. However, we hardly see the situation recently due to the change of Japanese custom in a house, and it might cause of less communication than before. The 5th president suggested that an aspiration of Kashiwaya for the next few decades is to become a landmark of the city. I focused on how Kashiwaya will recreate the space -tea room in the future.
A metaphor "a tea room in the future" came up as a design concept. The geometry square expresses Ranma- Japanese decoration for a wall between different rooms. In the middle, you could see a circle window and a half circle Manju on the table which implies sunrise. You are now looking at a Manju in a tea room.
Giving all Noren curtains and
the mindmaps to the owners.
I confronted to correct enough resources and documents of the most Shinise stores because it has been lost since Kura (蔵) -Japanese storage was collapsed due to the earthquake in 2011. At this moment, a way of taking over the history to the next generation is mainly folklore. It would be better if they have archives to talk about their histories. I believe that one of the roles of a designer is to create the bridge between past and the future. I expect that the Noren curtains I passed to all owners after the exhibition will give opportunities for having a conversation about the histories and plans for the future among local people.