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TechShop Japan: Tokyo’s latest high tech Maker Space

by Nicole on May 23, 2016

Like many cities maker culture is taking hold, fab labs, hackerspaces, co working spaces and the like have been springing up all over Tokyo.  These spaces offer designers both established professionals and aspiring amateurs a creative space to innovate.  These spaces also connect with the Japanese culture of monozukuri, or making things, which is ever present in the cultures artistic traditions.

TechShop Japan is the first location in Asia, it opened in the Ark Mori building in Minato Ward, Tokyo, in early April 2016.

TechShop is an international, open-access DIY workshop which was born in California. Its state of the art facilitates are widely considered one of the driving forces behind the Maker Movement in the US. With 10 locations in the US each equipped with professional-quality tools.

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Besides being the ultimate place to play, spaces like TechShop act as a hub for innovation, which will foster a community.

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TechShop’s concept is: “BUILD YOUR DREAMS HERE” and with over 50 state of the art machines all they need is people!

Walking through the space with high ceilings which smelt a bit of singed materials there were expected soldering areas, 3D printers, laser cutters, air brush stations and welding work shops. However, it was surprising to see so much space dedicated to high quality textile production.

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I’m often asked about how to get more women involved, interestingly enough the Maker scene in Singapore is 40% female at all the events I attended and this was largely attributed to the inclusion of art installations which were fabric based and the availability of textile machines. Personally, I think it’s that they have a high focus on activities for kids which are not gendered and fosters a gender neutral ecosystem from the start.

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TechShop Tokyo has the most advanced and extensive machines I’ve seen in a Makerspace anywhere in the world. We were told that the space currently has around 30% women signed up for memberships, which is actually a great statistic for such a new space.

Fujitsu and TechShop, having a common vision of a society in which diverse people share knowledge and expand their imaginations to make new things. This space has been in the works since 2014 and is a much needed.

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Social aging is affecting Japan as their workforce is faced with a declining birth rate. There are only 11 Million young people entering the workforce whereas the generation before had 18 Million. It’s widely considered that societies have relied on disruptive business models and innovative new ideas to come from incoming generations.

Fujitsu has a few strategies for the future the first is creating more efficient systems which allow for one person to do more (AI & Robots are going to be a big part of that. Fujitsu will also be increasing its global workforce to around 50%, by increasing the global perspective it will be easier to mitigate the potential impact of social aging.

This a pretty wide sweeping generalization of a complex strategy and societal phenomenon. The reason we’re looking at the big picture is that TechShop is entering Japan at just the right moment. Japan is not devoid of leading technology or innovative ideas, but providing state of the art tools, classes and community that can learn from each other’s successes and failures was never more critical for Japan.

From a business perspective it also helps that TechShop is a self sustaining business which sells classes and materials and will provide Fujitsu with a great space to recruit Japan’s top Makers.

Mobile Geeks got to take a tour of the space as a part of a sponsored trip to Tokyo for the Fujitsu Forum.