Session 3: “Revitalizing” the Local

Keisuke Sugano


Keisuke Sugano (Eng.D.)
Assistant Professor of Department of Architecture, College of Architecture, Kanazawa Institute of Technology (Japan)

Keisuke Sugano (Eng.D.) is Assistant Professor of Department of Architecture, College of Architecture, Kanazawa Institute of Technology (Japan), and former researcher at Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands). He is specialized in Japanese “Machizukuri”, which is defined as diverse and creative community-driven management models, by which local communities are enabled to actively tackle problem-solving. His main research theme is community-based participatory research through practicing Machizukuri. The focus lies on developing the methodology for community empowerment by participatory process evaluation using documentary film and interactive planning using illustrations and 3D models.

Project Description

Title: Discovering the authenticity of cultural assets through community empowerment


Figure1: Circular strategy for promoting utilization of cultural assets.

Neo-liberalization in Japan was implemented in earnest by the Koizumi administration from 2001, and decentralization was promoted. In addition, the Abe administration’s “Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy” in 2014 promoted private businesses in local cities that enhance regional value, and a subsidy system was established for the utilization of cultural assets that contribute to regional branding and tourism promotion. In the seriously depopulated rural villages targeting in this paper, the maintenance function of cultural assets is declining due to the decrease in tax revenue and the shortage of human resources, and the utilization is an urgent issue.

The following three are required to utilize cultural assets under these circumstances.

The first is practicing “Machizukuri”. Japanese Machizukuri was created as a democratic place-making strategy in opposition to top-down urban planning during the period of high economic growth in the 1960s. As the role of citizens is increasing under decentralization, and bottom-up process to empowering community is required.

The second is seeking the authentic value of cultural assets. It is necessary to evoke the pride and attachment of citizens to cultural assets and to seek indigenous utilization ways against heritage commodification and method homogenization.

Figure 2: Constitution of documentary film depicting Machizukuri process.

Third is collaboration with immigrants. The movement of “return to rural living” which began in the early 2000s, was boosted by the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, and the number of immigrants is increasing in the objective area. It is necessary to become tangible of culture, that is difficult to see for natives, by collaborating with immigrants who are fascinated by the rural living.

In this paper, it is discussed that the process of creating a regional vision based on the authentic value of cultural assets through community empowerment in collaboration with both natives and immigrants, in which the author participates as a planner.