In November 2020, Wacom became partners with Oiso Town, Kanagawa Prefecture, CELSYS, Inc., and I-NET Corp. to promote the "New Normal Digital Creative Education"* initiative with the goal of raising the caliber of education in Oiso Town even higher. This partnership was created out of a desire to support "writing/drawing."
Wacom is dedicated to encouraging the love of writing/drawing and showing children that the world expands when they continue to write/draw. The partnership with Oiso Town has developed into a city-wide initiative, not only for children but for all of the residents.
Tadakuni Tsubota, from the Creative BU Retail Partnership, is running this initiative. President Nobu Ide felt confident that Tadakuni had it all under control after visiting Oiso Town together. Tadakuni made about 100 trips back and forth between Oiso Town and Shinjuku, Tokyo, where our office is situated. We spoke with him about the initiative he has been developing with the people in Oiso Town.
*"New Normal Digital Creative Education" aims to actively integrate creative activities into education that make use of digital technology's advantages, such as sharing collaborative work and art, as well as analog creative initiatives within a digital environment.
How did Wacom begin collaborating with Oiso Town?
Tadakuni: Through a partnership with I-NET Corp., we had a meeting with the Oiso Town Board of Education in August 2020. Back when the GIGA School concept was just beginning, I spoke with the school board members about how we could offer support through the power of technology together with Wacom. Oiso Town, CELSYS, Inc., I-NET Corp., and Wacom forged a collaborative agreement, which was announced at Connected Ink 2020 to support "writing/drawing" from an educational standpoint.
What kinds of activities does Wacom engage in?
Tadakuni: Shortly after we finalized the collaborative agreement, we worked with the Art Club of Kokufu Junior High School in Oiso Town and they created digital works. We first displayed them at Connected Ink 2020, which marked the beginning of digital creation in junior high schools. The kids had so much fun making their artwork that in the following year, 2021, we decided to host a badge-creation event and a summer drawing class for kids. The project was originally for elementary and junior high school students which we launched together with the School Education Division. Later on, other divisions learned of the children's positive responses, and they became interested in working together. In 2022, the program was expanded to include all residents of the town, with events such as digital painting classes.
Our scope and focus are growing quickly, wouldn’t you say?
Tadakuni: Since people in town talk about their experiences and what they felt, information about our activities is spreading quickly from student to teacher, teacher to school, and from school to town. I am grateful that not only the kids but also the residents are aware of our initiatives. From the standpoint of “writing/drawing”, people in nearby towns and teachers who are not directly related to art are also showing interest in the project.
How did the town residents and children respond?
Tadakuni: The young students were overjoyed. When I introduced myself, they replied "Are you from Wacom, the company with the pen display?”. After about 15 minutes of instructions on how to connect to the PC and use CLIP STUDIO PAINT, they were quickly able to draw. I think that adults are becoming more aware of what Wacom is doing based on the response from the kids.
There were some challenging periods at the beginning as we struggled to decide what to do. Support from teachers has been the key to driving it forward. They have been there for us because they think that we should do it if it’s meaningful for the kids. Now, when we host an event, people ask when the next one will be. It makes me happy to hear that the people in town are enjoying the activities we are organizing.
Are there any situations that were particularly memorable?
Tadakuni: It was the first Connected Ink in 2020 when the students from Kokufu Junior High School participated. Our initiative would not have started without that.
There were challenges during the creation process, but I’ll never forget the students’ smiles when the project was done and their pieces were presented. It was a true joy seeing the children’s happiness at the thank-you event for the students who took part in Connected Ink 2020, everyone’s smiles at the badge events, and the workshops on digital drawing. In any case, I’m most delighted that they were happy when they were creating something.
Recently, we have opened our events to people of all ages. Everyone agrees that these events are enjoyable and is a place where beautiful artwork is created. Some visitors come with a specific idea in mind, such as a person wishing to trace an old photograph. I get the impression that the people in town are making us feel welcome.
As a salesperson, isn’t it better to sell as many units as you can?
Tadakuni: Of course selling as many as we can is better (laughs). I think that supporting the “writing/drawing” of our customers is a key component of both our daily work and our efforts with Oiso Town. I would be thrilled if we got more people to use and like our products through these events because our final goal is to have people say that they are excited to use Wacom products.
What future initiatives do you have in mind?
Tadakuni: We intend to keep hosting workshops on digital drawing with exhibitions running alongside them. We would also like to actively take part in the town-sponsored events to share our products and experiences of digital writing/drawing. Additionally, I am taking part as an observer in the town council’s discussion on how to promote the GIGA school concept and the development of ICT education. There is no grand plan, but I hope to keep working with the people in Oiso Town to support “writing/drawing.”
What does the initiative with Oiso Town mean to you?
Tadakuni: That is a difficult question…! I can’t imagine not having this initiative. There are so many things that I have learned because of our efforts with Oiso Town, such as the fact that our users all have questions about the areas in which we work, or that they wanted to do these kinds of things with our products. I cried when a student who was not very good at school was very enthusiastic about a piece of artwork he created and told me how much fun he had. His parents were also delighted, and I was glad that we did it. It’s a part of my job, but it has become a part of my life too. Supporting "writing/drawing" has become something important to me, and the people of Oiso are extremely supportive.
History with Oiso Town as of December 2022
We'll keep moving forward with Oiso Town.