Recognizing “Aomori” as You Left Once
－ So both of you were born in Aomori Prefecture and experienced life out of Aomori, right?
Tamura: I’m from Sannohe-gun Nanbu-Town, former Fukuchi Village. I used to feel I just need to make money, and moved to Tokyo and Kanazawa about half a year. But now my lifestyle has changed with the way you don’t need too much money -ha ha.
Chiba: I’m from Aomori-City. I moved to Sendai after high school for design school. Then I worked at a design office for 3 years in Sendai and came back to Aomori.
－ What do you feel good about Aomori?
Tamura: Aomori is good as it is just so open. I sense interstices, or even spaces you are allowed to do anything. Tokyo is dense, busy and many people feel lonely despite its large population. I felt I’ve had enough after living in Tokyo for 3 months.
Chiba: Downtowns have more things and information, and less human interaction. In Aomori ladies from neighborhood always talk to you like “Good morning” or “Welcome back”, and you feel you are connected to others. If you talk to people like that in Sendai you’ll become a suspicious person – ha ha
Tamura: People say there are comfortable natural environment but that’s all about Aomori, and Aomori never changes. But I feel very comfortable and important that things don’t change, and it’s the best fascination about Aomori. So the key should be how we can change the way showing things a little more interesting ways, or enjoying the things because they never change. I’d like to put the value to the quality of being unchangeable.
“Designs” Born through Aomori Life
－ So both of you do creative works such as designing. Do you get inspired by daily life in Aomori?
Tamura: I get design inspiration from various things including leaves and birds -ha ha.
At first I tried to look at them, and now I just want to, and focus on looking at them. For example, I see Adonis ramosa blooming in spring, and see how they grow. Each season has various things which stimulate my inspiration. Here is the best place to excite the senses.
Chiba: I think about things which will make our daily lives better but haven’t created yet, and think about things in daily life how I can express differently to look more fun. As my mates and friends are so unique in their own way and I often get inspired just by talking to them. When I have something I want to do, I always try to find someone who can do things what I can’t. For example, if you want to meet Nebuta or Tsufaru Lacquerware craftsmen and ask people around you, you always can make it to meet them. In downtown, you’ll be able to ask almost anyone to do things for you by just paying money, but in Aomori, people always try to be helpful by introducing someone to someone else. That makes you feel you have a strong bond to people. I feel there is nothing we can’t do.
Tamura: I agree with that – ha ha. When I built this place, a bond to the community enabled me to procure the necessary materials. People take it negative about living in a small country, but the deep relationship with community is actually supporting me a lot.
“Aomori Genjin ”, A Must-Read Book for Those Who Want to Learn Aomori
－ You two are the authors of “Aomori Genjin”. It really shows the reality of Aomori, and I was moved by reading it with the feelings such as “Yes I know it!” and “Is it really so?”.
Chiba: The publisher offered me of introducing Aomori, and I was free to choose detailed articles, so I asked Mr. Tamura to work together.
I was surprised to know that things which are so normal for us surprise people living other part of Japan. It made me proud of our lifestyles including dialects and local food.
Tamura: When I finished making this book, I thought I discovered the charms of Aomori again. I learned and thought Aomori was interesting, and was proud of Aomori. I hope some people who read the book will feel Aomori is somehow interesting. People who visit Aomori for a business trip have to read this book too – ha ha.
Chiba: We have various lifestyles such as buses never come in winter and you never buy apples because you are always given (ha ha). Making the book gave me an opportunity to think about our lifestyles and what Aomori is really like.
Tamura: I think the book also increase sympathy between Aomori locals. The book may help understanding things what locals didn’t know about other areas of Aomori.
Chiba: Many differences can be found by each area in Aomori Prefecture. For example, winter PE class is skiing around Tsugaru area, but it’s skating around Nanbu area. Dialects, lifestyles and flavoring food vary in each area. There should be no other prefectures where various and different lifestyles exist in one prefecture like Aomori, which is really interesting!
－ So you gave a lot of thought to Aomori in the process of making the book.
Tamura: It reminded me that I was born in Aomori, and want to die in Aomori.
Chiba: If I think only about having fun, downtowns are exciting and can be good, but when it comes to my living and life, Aomori where I was born is comfortable to me.
Tamura: Tokyo is consuming but not producing. Tokyo has everything but it just means everything is collected and that’s it. In case disasters occur, commercial distribution will stop and then you can’t make it through for a long time. You can’t survive no matter how much money you may have.
Aomori produces a lot. It is fine you have much money, but even if you don’t, you can survive. We have water from springs, and there are old ladies in your neighborhood who pickled a large amount of vegetables. Aomori is also a good place in the aspect of disaster-prevention.
A designer from Tokyo visited this place the other day, and got very excited saying “Mr. Tamura, you will be very rich if you build this in the center of Tokyo” – ha ha.
I think designing is what I do to all of my living. Everything is designing including the size of firewood, like oh this size is too big for my stove and have to make it half. But designers such as the one who visited me from Tokyo make a living by designing what is not very necessary. I think Aomori possesses the trueness of life.
“Aomori Brand” Discovery from Aomori Life
－ What do you imagine from the word and concept of “Aomori Brand”?
Tamura: The word “Brand” sounds luxury, and it sounds a kind of fake (ha ha). To me everything about Aomori is cool and not about some part of it. It’s just cool if it rains or snows. If insects eat my crops, I feel oh they must have been tasty. Just everything is amazing to me.
Chiba: When you hear the word “Aomori Brand”, you might think what it is all about. But I believe there are things you can do and a bond with people you can have because you are here in Aomori. I really think you can do anything in here.
Tamura: 1300,000 of people live in Aomori Prefecture although they say there is too much snow, the prefecture with a low life expectancy and a minimum wage is low. I like the fact people live somewhere finding charms of it. It is amazing and I believe it is what brand is.
Chiba: “Aomori Brand” is not about individual materials, but is about the whole things of Aomori. Like Mr. Tamura says, Aomori produces various things, has abundant materials and resources and you can create anything out of them. Designing is what you are allowed to express something in various ways, so it has a possibility to express negative things in silly and funny ways, then they can change and you may feel them as fun things. I’m trying to express the charms of Aomori through designing.
－ I can feel both of you put spirit into enjoying and promoting Aomori.
Chiba: It is fine young people move to downtowns. People want to see and experience many things, and once you get out of your hometown, you can recognize how good your hometown is. If we, as adults live our life in here like taking advantage of your past experiences you had in downtown, kids may think they want to follow that way and may start thinking they want to come back to Aomori.
Tamura: If you don’t enjoy living here, you won’t enjoy living in downtown either. Wherever you may live, using your senses to find charms of the place to enjoy yourself is always the same. Every year the population of Aomori Prefecture decreases more than the number of 10,000, which means people die more than people are born, and there are more people who move out than who move into Aomori. It may not a good thing that people get out of Aomori from a governmental viewpoint, but from my viewpoint I don’t want people who dislike Aomori live here. The reason is they always stand in a way of someone who are trying to do something for the better. I want to work with people who think Aomori is cool and fun. Well, I think it will be rather interesting if there are various kinds of people and disorganized.
Chiba: I used to organize a project with Mr. Tamura introducing our hometown respectively. I believe we can draw people if we do something fun and make Aomori Prefecture look amazing.
Tamura: That’s our job – creating the atmosphere that Aomori is a fun place and good place to live, through activities and designing.
Chiba: We can’t forget about the charms of local people. I believe we can draw people’s attention when people in Aomori look extremely active, they wonder what the charms of Aomori would be.
I believe introducing people like Mr. Tamura who enjoy living in Aomori can open doors to people and show how you can live in Aomori.
Tamura: Mahatma Gandhi said “You must be the change you want to see in the world”. If you don’t change, nothing can change around you. You have to enjoy yourself first, and spread the message to the world.