National

'Cool Japan' complex envisioned in Saitama

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Publisher Kadokawa Corp. has unveiled a vision to turn Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, into a hub for the “Cool Japan” movement by creating a cultural complex that it claims Japan has never seen the likes of before.

Calling it the “Cool Japan Forest Vision,” the Tokyo-based publisher and film maker said Thursday that it plans to build a complex featuring a library and a museum on a 3.7-hectare plot of land that previously housed one of the Tokorozawa Municipal Government’s sewage treatment plants.

Kadokawa said that it could also have a school, nursery and cafe.

The complex will embody Kadokawa’s seven decades of business focusing on Japanese pop culture and related content, all of which are part of the so-called Cool Japan cultural movement that the government has been promoting overseas, said Kadokawa Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa.

“We want to bring everything together to (this complex),” he told a news conference held jointly with Tokorozawa municipal officials in Tokyo on Thursday.

But how Kadokawa will incorporate its content and how the complex will pan out as a main base for Cool Japan are still unclear, and the company said the specifics will be discussed by a panel including representatives from Tokorozawa and the firm, as well as an advisory board that will include a number of cultural and business experts.

“This proposal from Kadokawa will literally (make Tokorozawa) a cultural base and will lead the Cool Japan movement. This will really be a treasure for us,” Tokorozawa Mayor Masato Fujimoto said at the same news conference.

The city possesses lots of green space, so Kadokawa and the city decided to name the project “Cool Japan Forest Vision.”

Kadokawa said it will cost about ¥30 billion to build the complex, which he said he hopes to open before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, saying it could also become a magnet for foreign visitors.

Saitama Prefecture is apparently not really a popular place to visit compared with its nearby rivals, which include Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba.

The Japan Travel Agency conducted a survey of 27,676 international visitors in 2014 and found that only 1.8 percent had gone to Saitama, while 51.4 percent had flocked to Tokyo, 12.3 percent to Kanagawa and 11.7 percent to Chiba.

But the new complex might help change that situation if Kadokawa succeeds in attracting tourists to the prefecture who are interested in Japan’s anime and pop music.

Tokorozawa is where many of Japan’s cultural leaders, including director Hayao Miyazaki, live or have lived.