Grafting and nurturing that lead to the abundance of fruit: Kuriyama Brick Warehouse Kurift

Kuriyama Brick Warehouse Kurift

A brick warehouse once used to store onions and the like, stands on the south side of JR Kuriyama Station. In 2023, the brick warehouse opened with a new role.
Words by Ishida Mie
Photographs by Kurose Michio
Translation by Xene Inc.

The desire to increase the number of people who love Kuriyama

Since 2018, the roads, public housing, parks and the like in the vicinity of JR Kuriyama Station have been rehabilitated as part of Kuriyama’s town planning. It was decided that the brick warehouse would be utilized as a regional/tourism exchange center as part of this plan. However, determining exactly what kind of facility it would be, proved more difficult. We asked Miki Takamitsu of the Brand Promotion Section of Kuriyama Town, about the process.
“Town Office staff and external advisors gathered for discussions, and the conclusion they came up with was a concept of a ‘facility to create a related population of the town.’”
The ‘related population’ is neither permanent residents who have settled in the area nor the ‘interactive population’ that visit for tourism, but rather the people who are involved in the community in various ways. Miki defines it as “people who love Kuriyama and who want to support Kuriyama, including town residents.”
An important aspect is a place that can be utilized to increase the number of people who “love Kuriyama,” and this is the new role of the brick warehouse.

Kanaya Misaki, one of the members of the Kuriyama Town Local Vitalization Cooperator Program who discussed the use of the brick warehouse at the time, recalls, “I envisioned it as a ‘place that I wish had existed when I was a high-school student,’ and want it to become somewhere where the young people living in Kuriyama will be glad to have.”
With the wishes of many people on board, the plan to utilize the brick warehouse has gradually begun to move forward.

Miki Takamitsu is Kuriyama Town’s Brand Promotion Section Manager. Born in Iwamizawa, he moved to Kuriyama after graduating from high school.

Kanaya Misaki is a former Kuriyama Town Local Vitalization Cooperator. She currently works for Office Kurioko, LLC.

The name comes from the ‘grafting’ of chestnut trees

Kuriyama Brick Warehouse Kurift. The naming was the brainchild of Kanaya. Originally from Kuriyama, after graduating from university, Kanaya worked in Sapporo before returning to her beloved Kuriyama three years after starting work. It was at the same time as recruitment for local vitalization cooperators was taking place, and she immediately applied for a position and was subsequently hired. She has pro-actively participated in discussions about the use of the brick warehouse, as someone who had made a U-turn back to Kuriyama.
“When we were wondering what to call the warehouse, I remembered Miki telling us about the ‘grafting’ of chestnut trees (Kuri is the Japanese word for chestnut). I looked it up and found that it is an important process of grafting trees together to make them grow stronger so that they produce bigger fruit; this is exactly what we want to do, which is to graft together people from inside and outside the town to create a related population. So, I thought that combining the words kuri and graft to make ‘Kurift’ would be perfect.”

What can be done at Kurift?

Let us briefly introduce the functions of Kurift.
The multipurpose hall, the largest space, is usually open to the public, and many high-school students gather there to study in the afternoon, after school.
It is also available for private group use and events. Next to the multipurpose hall is a slightly smaller exhibition hall, where people can display and sell their own work and products, and handmade product markets and workshops are increasingly held there.
Connected to the hall are two kitchens equipped with full-scale cooking equipment, which can be used to create prototype products by those who want to open their own establishments, or by those currently running establishments who want to branch out.

Another major feature is the ‘Fablab Kuriyama’ space, equipped with digital production machinery and analog tools, allowing users to make things with the support of specialist instructors. Farmers in the town make their own parts for farm machinery, and students from a nursing care vocational school create tools to make it easier to use wheelchairs.

The tables and chairs in the multipurpose hall were created, with the help of locals, in Fablab Kuriyama.

The Fablab Kuriyama workshop

An ever-changing place of activity

Mochizuki Takafumi, who disseminates information about Kuriyama via the town's PR magazine and web media, is one of the members who has been involved with Kurift since before it opened. We asked him about his expectations for the future.
“I hope everyone will make use of it on a daily basis, just like high-school students that gather to study in the evenings. Kurift is a place to do your own activities in comfort. Of course, since it is a town project, we must properly evaluate the results and continue thinking about the next challenges and strategies. I like to look at it from both a critical angle and an enjoyable angle, and hope to increase the number of people involved.”

It will be interesting to see how the grafted tree grows and bears fruit.

Mochizuki Takafumi works as an information planner. He has established and is running the Kuriyama Town official ‘note,’ the concept of which is to ‘write down, accumulate and join the sounds of Kuriyama.’

Kuriyama Station South Interaction Base Facility ‘Kuriyama Brick Warehouse Kurift’ 
Chuo 3-chome 154-1, Kuriyama-cho, Yubari-gun, Hokkaido, Japan
Tel. 0123-76-9945
9:00–22:00 Closed on Mondays (Tues. if Mon. is a public holiday)

Kuriyama Town official note

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