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TOKYO CUTTING EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #8 : Investigating Nonsense with Maywa Denki

『TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai』#8 with 土佐 信道(明和電機)
TOKYO CUTTING EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #8 : Investigating Nonsense with Maywa Denki

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TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai is column series, which covers Tokyo’s latest cutting-edge culture! In this series she’ll be interviewing creators that have caught her interest, in order to discover the latest cutting-edge culture in Tokyo. We have interviewed Ai☆Madonna, Junya Suzuki from chloma, Etsuko IchiharaTORIENA, and Tadashi Shimaya, Nukeme, and Keisuke Nagami from HATRA.

For the 8th installment, we’ll be interviewing Novmichi Tosa from an art unit “Maywa Denki”.


Julie: Tosa-san, Thank you for coming today.

Tosa: My pleasure!

Julie: We recently met at an event held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, didn’t we?

Tosa: Yes, we did.

Julie: It was a gadget-related event, right? Did you exhibit your products?

Tosa: No, I was there as a judge for “IVRC” (International collegiate Virtual Reality Contest).

Julie: Oh, really? I remember VR works were in the spotlights at the event.

Tosa: Yeah. But I always get motion sickness with a head-mounted display. I saw many works at the event so I felt really sick!

The interview was conducted via Skype. / 対談はSkypeで行われました

The interview was conducted via Skype. / 対談はSkypeで行われました

Julie: (laugh). I know how you feel because I also get some motion sickness too. It’s kind of tough to see back to back, even for me. Now, let me ask you about Maywa Denki and its activities. Maywa Denki is also a famous artist, even my own mother knows. When did you come up with the concept of “Maywa Denki”?

Tosa: It was 1992 when I graduated from Tsukuba University.

Julie: Were you a graduate of Tsukuba University? I thought you went to a fine art college.

Tosa: Actually, Tsukuba University has an art and design course. I studied at a school of art and design. Mr. Ishihara, a producer of Pokemon, a Japanese interactive media and installation artist Toshio Iwai, Ryota Kuwakubo , a Japanese multimedia artist and Shinsuke Yoshitake who is a picture book writer also studied there.

Photo : Julie Watai, Model : Yun*chi, Thanks : Team Lab / 撮影 : Julie Watai, モデル : Yun*chi, 撮影協力 : チームラボ

Photo : Julie Watai, Model : Yun*chi, Thanks : Team Lab / 撮影 : Julie Watai, モデル : Yun*chi, 撮影協力 : チームラボ

Julie: Upon hearing a school of art and design in Tsukuba University, it surely gives us the impression of a full-scale technical media art! And I was surprised that many famous creators you mentioned are also the graduates of that school. According to your official website, you inherited Maywa Denki from your father, right? Excuse me for asking, but is everything a true story? I mean it is so historical, such as making combat aircrafts during World War II and stuff, so I am kind of curious about it.

jui-watai-meiwa-denki-additional-01

Maywa Denki in Akō, Hyogo / 明和電機(赤穂時代)

Tosa: Yes, it is true.

Julie: Oh! Really!!

Tosa: When I was a child, I used to live on the second floor of the company’s factory. You know, everyday was like “Maker Faire”!

Julie: Well, the scale of manufacturing is beyond “Maker Faire” (laugh). But I’m sure you grew up familiarizing yourself with machinery. What was the reaction of your father who is an engineer when you started Maywa Denki?

juli-watai-meiwa-denki-additonal-02

Tosa: My father’s Maywa Denki went bankrupt in 1979 and I started a new Maywa Denki in 1993. Contrary to his Maywa Denki, we produced nonsense machines which confused him at first. He used to say like “Are you guys serious?”, “You know, we still have debts”. But after a while, he began to show an understanding of our concept, saying like “Now I understand it is the sense of fun”.

Julie: It is easy to imagine how shocked he was as an engineer. By the way, Maywa Denki develops very unique electronic products which fuel materialistic desires of people like me who love gadget. What is the key word of your concept?

Tosa: Well, the keyword of the products is…. It’s “Nonsense”!

Julie: Nonsense! That makes sense! For reference, fish are featured in lot of your products, right? Why fish?

Tosa: Well, I really don’t know myself. I have often had nightmares about fish since I was a child. I would say it’s because I want to understand the puzzling part of the nightmares.

Sketch / スケッチ

Sketch / スケッチ

Sketch / スケッチ

Sketch / スケッチ

Julie: Nightmares…. That’s why the fish motif products are somehow bizarre. I saw your “sketch’s’ library“ released on your web site. You are so generous to publish so many creative sketches. When and where do you come up with such an idea?

Sketch / スケッチ

Sketch / スケッチ

Sketch / スケッチ

Sketch / スケッチ

…to continue reading
…続きを読むには

Related Links
Maywa Denki Official site : http://www.maywadenki.com/
Maywa Denki Official Twitter : https://twitter.com/maywadenki
Julie Watai Official site : http://juliewatai.jp/
Julie Watai Official Twitter : https://twitter.com/JulieWatai

Translated by Hideko

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Author
Julie Watai
Julie Watai

After working at an idol in Japan, Julie Watai moved by herself to Italy, publishing SAMURAI GIRL in 2006 while working as a photographer for Italian publishing company DRAGO&ARTS. She quickly became an international Japanese pop culture figure, gaining a large following. After returning to Japan, she continued her work as a photographer, along with developing electronics as a hobby and iPhone apps, and has been remarkably successful as part of the Akiba-style geek culture, too.

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