Social Enterprise in Tōhoku: Smart Strawberries
Hear from Iwasa Hiroki, a Japanese social entrepreneur who is helping to revitalize his hometown through a luxury strawberry brand, in this talk at Japan House London, part of the series of events TŌHOKU 3.11 Forward to the Future, exploring the recovery of the Tōhoku region of north-eastern Japan.
Iwasa Hiroki has dedicated himself to the reconstruction and revitalization of his hometown, Yamamoto in Miyagi Prefecture following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. He is the creator of MIGAKI ICHIGO, a brand of luxury strawberries that are now sold and popular all over Japan.
Establishing the brand was a long process, which took him years of effort to introduce and develop his own agricultural technology working together with established local farmers. As the strawberries have become more and more well-known, the number of people visiting Yamamoto has dramatically increased compared to before the earthquake, boosting the local economy.
Iwasa Hiroki is joined in conversation by Dr Christopher Harding, a cultural historian of modern Japan who is renowned as an author, presenter and journalist. Examining the case study of MIGAKI ICHIGO the speakers explore how the work of social entrepreneurs can contribute to the reconstruction and long-lasting revitalization of disaster-affected areas.
This event is held as part of TŌHOKU 3.11 Forward to the Future, a week-long series of displays, tastings, talks and workshops exploring the region’s recovery, taking place at Japan House London in collaboration with Japan’s Reconstruction Agency.
About the speakers
Iwasa Hiroki was born in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture. He founded GRA Inc. after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 to contribute to the rebuilding of his hometown, which was devastated by the disaster. He is committed to the revitalization of Tōhoku and, as a pioneer of structural change in the agricultural business, he has a particular interest in the application of advanced technology to horticulture. He is the creator of MIGAKI ICHIGO, a brand of luxury strawberries which cost 1,000 yen each.
Dr Christopher Harding is a cultural historian of modern Asia and its relationships with the West. Born in London, Christopher studied at the University of Oxford before living and working for a number of years in Japan. He now lectures in modern Indian and Japanese history, and in culture and mental health, at the University of Edinburgh. Since being named one of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers in 2013, his broadcast work has included discussion and festival appearances, essays, a taster film, and extensive documentary work on BBC radio, including a four-part series on culture and mental health The Borders of Sanity, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service in 2016. He has written for BBC History Magazine, History Today, Aeon, and The Telegraph, in addition to Japan’s premier national daily, The Asahi Shimbun.