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Rethinking local tourism with Service Design

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There's a historical village in Nagoya known as Arimatsu, a town known for being the location of the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, where Oda Nobunaga defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto and established himself as one of the front-running warlords in the Sengoku period. The town is also well-known for being the historical center of shibori, or traditional Japanese tie-dye, and has supported the industry since the 17th century, dating back to 1608.

Chances are low that, even if you live in Nagoya, you have given it a visit, or perhaps even heard of it. This year's Service Design course aims to address the town's revitalization goals, on which the hopes of those who produce and sell its traditional handicrafts are pinned, through fieldwork, analysis, and proposals presented directly to Arimatsu's stakeholders.

The service design methodology starts with imagining a target customer in the future, then researching and interviewing sample populations to develop a persona. Led by Prof. Yuriko Sawatani, participants share what is observed in teams and discuss various viewpoints on how to connect current target markets with their visions of clientele in the future. Day 3 of the course had participants travel to Arimatsu and observe the town, interact with locals, and identify patterns that could lead to useful conclusions. Upon their return, students shared their conclusions with Mr. Asano, charged with revitalizing tourism to the small town.