（Jan 1, 2022 – present）
You helped us open a new style of food school with a sustainable perspective.
Honshoku is a creative team that supports people tackling food-related issues by planning and executing various projects and events. In 2020, they opened "food skole," a school that addresses the role of food in the environment, society and life. Hitoshizuku was asked to help run one of the first classes, on the Social Development Goals (SDGs), and has been involved in school management ever since.
After forming a business alliance in January 2022, the groups have been expanding their partnership. This includes developing content and ideas on food's role in the field of sustainability. We asked honshoku's CEO about this concept, the benefits of working with Hitoshizuku, and his hopes for the future.
We needed a new perspective on sustainability and food.
Hiroshi Kokubo, President and CEO of Hitoshizuku Inc. (Kokubo):
I believe we first met in 2019, at a business training camp for small business owners.
Satoshi Hirai, CEO of honshoku Inc. (Hirai):
It’s held at the end of the year, and usually my schedule is full, but I just happened to have some time. So it was kind of a miracle that we met! It didn’t feel like we were talking about work; we just shared a few drinks and had a heart-to-heart. And after that I asked you to work on food skole.
Soon after the camp, you put us in charge of the SDGs class. You’d only just set up food skole, hadn’t you?
Yes. It was conducted online, at a time when people weren’t used to Zoom. We were making it up as we went along. The project’s name literally means “food school,” but food is a broad concept associated with many different fields.
Right now, its link to the environment is something we need to think about. In a global context, our diets may not be viable. People may feel that issues on such a big scale don’t affect them personally. Or they may be worried about what’s to come. People have different views on the future. It’s a serious topic, and I don’t have a clear idea of how to move forward, while still enjoying myself. I’m still trying to work that out.
I specialize in the subject of food loss, but I thought you’d be able to give a different perspective on food and sustainability. We worked together, and I felt like I learned a lot from your way of working.
When I received your request, I had just come back from a work trip to Sweden. Seeing their sophisticated approach to the SDGs gave me hope for the future that I wanted to express. I was able to do that at food skole by inviting guests to speak about the role food plays in Sweden, with regards to the SDGs. Your request fit perfectly with my view of the future, so I was happy to receive it.
After meeting you and learning about Hitoshizuku, I thought you were someone with tireless energy. I was intrigued by the idea of PR focused on social good, and your capacity for logistical support. After the business training camp, I looked at your website, and learned more about your points of view—and even your sense of humor! There was an individuality that appealed to me, and without that I probably wouldn’t have contacted you.
Independent action is an appealing aspect of Hitoshizuku’s thorough, multifaceted support.
Although food skole is an online class, you value the concept of mutual learning, and I feel the same. I think you have an incredible ability to digest different things, and deliver a clear message. It’s like breathing to you. Many people have a limited perspective, but you maintain your principles while incorporating other ideas. I found that approach inspiring.
I majored in mathematics at university. It wasn’t just about memorizing formulas; you had to construct questions yourself, then use your knowledge as a weapon to solve them. Perhaps that thought process has had an influence on me.
When we first met, I thought you approached problems in a fresh way. You treated them like math problems!
Your approach intrigued me too. It still does! I used to work in advertising. For me, it was less about independent action, and more about helping clients to communicate from new perspectives. I really enjoyed it.
I thought Hitoshizuku would be the same, but I was wrong. You and your colleagues do act independently and subjectively, while maintaining an objective stance.
I’m always keen to show our originality. We try to independently engage with the social issues our partners are working on, and leave our stamp on the project. That’s constantly on our minds.
I’m the same. I always want to do work that I can be proud of.
Can you explain the positives of working with us on the SDGs class at food skole?
The project was new, and I was still figuring it out. I’ve set up a lot of new businesses, but food skole was special. I had a personal interest. So my vision for it kept changing. Sometimes, in those situations, it can be easier to work alone, rather than collaborating. But you’ll never achieve anything big that way. I had proactive colleagues checking my work and giving their opinions, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to come this far.
Any uncertainties were faced head on, and that was really positive. It’s common to take a top-down approach, and leave detailed decisions until later. Instead, we tackled each issue one by one. It takes time, but you do feel like you’re making daily progress.
I want us to create a place for children to learn about food.
Do you have any suggestions or advice on how Hitoshizuku could improve?
Good question. I’m not sure you have any weaknesses! I can’t think of any advice to give.
No-one’s ever said that before!
You’re always supporting others in various ways, but I’d like to see you in the opposite position, receiving advice and support from others on your own project.
At the moment, our work is based on other people and issues, rather than ourselves. I always picture what I would want if I were a client, and act accordingly. Thorough, multifaceted support is my calling. But as we slowly perfect our methodology, I’d like to try doing a project of our own.
Is there anything else you’d like honshoku and Hitoshizuku to achieve in the future?
There are lots of things. In particular, child education. I teach a high school food class, and the kids often say that environmental and social issues are boring.
The images they see in class evoke a sense of impending crisis, created by the adults of today. And that may be true, but all that does is instill fear.
You’ve said before that it’s wrong to ask children to solve environmental problems that adults have created, and that everyone should work together to find solutions. I think we have the same point of view, and I’d love to collaborate on an educational project that uses food as a teaching material.
That sounds great. I think that experience is important for children. I actually participated in food skole with my son, and it gave me a complicated feeling, because it felt like he wasn’t paying much attention. But when I saw the diary he wrote for his school homework, it turns out it made an impression after all! I think food skole’s approach is important; rather than teaching children, you give them an opportunity to learn naturally. And it’s good to let them see their parents learning too.
I don’t think we should underestimate children, and limit what we teach them. Also, the field of food is broad and complex, so we should update teachers’ understanding. It would be good to offers teaching materials that support that.
Photography: Hiroyuki Horigome / Editing: Mayuki Tsujihara
You helped us open a new style of food school with a sustainable perspective.
Satoshi Hirai, CEO, honshoku Inc.
Your tailored support helped us to develop a plan for the future.
Hiromi Miki, Director, Center for Diversity and Collaboration, Ryutsu Keizai University
I want to use our design abilities for the benefit of society.
Seitaro Yamazaki, CEO and Art Director, Seitaro Design, Inc.
Your support inspired independent action among our members.
Yoko Matsui, Kanagawa Prefectural Housing Supply Corporation / Yutaka Maruno, Wakabadai Development Center
PR expertise is essential for regional projects. We want to expand to new places, using the experience we gained together.
Tomohiko Saito, President & CEO, Gassaku Inc.
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