What is the Mito Downtown
The Mito Downtown Revitalization Project aims to create a reusable model of regional revitalization
- This project aims to revitalize Mito through collaboration between the private sector and local government.
- Projects are implemented simultaneously with people, capital, and knowledge at the forefront.
- In order to best serve the community, we take local people’s opinions and suggestions into consideration for future projects.
Goal1Increase the number of residents
Goal2Increase pedestrian traffic(defined as total weekly foot traffic)
Goal3Unused or vacant landRepurpose unused or vacant lots, shuttered shops, and abandoned buildings downtown into places for people to gather
media entityCreate a new local media platform
(TV, internet, FM radio)
compact cityTurn Mito into a compact city through developing new transportation systems, and become a leading example of successful regional development
Themes of the Mito Downtown
Theme 1.To create an urban metropolis with art, education, tourism, and sports entertainment
Theme 2.To promote investments from both inside and outside of the prefecture, to create local jobs, and to develop new industries
Theme 3.To enhance communication abilities through new public transportation systems and media centralization
leading example in building a compact Japanese city
Currently, there are projects completed or underway!
Ibaraki Robots basketball team acquisition and renovation of Azumacho GymnasiumBasketball brings the city together in this state-of-the-art arena.
GLOBIS University Graduate School of Management established a campus in Mito, Ibaraki in April 2017This is the University’s sixth campus, in addition to locations in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sendai, and Fukuoka. The first class had 89 students!
M-SPO: a sports center and gymnasium,
cafe and open spaceM-SPO is located in the middle of downtown Mito, and creates a space for people of all ages to gather.
M-WORK: a place for individuals, corporations, or students who want to start their own businesses to meet and exchange ideasLectures and other events related to entrepreneurship, as well as a business planning contest for high school students are held to encourage new ideas.
Project 5M-HISTORY: Dr. Michael Thornton published Mito and the Politics of Reform in Early Modern Japan, a book that outlines Mito Domain’s role in Japan’s historical influenceIn the nineteenth century, Mito became the birthplace of a revolutionary ideology that transformed Japan into a modern, imperial nation-state. The book focuses on the stories of Mito’s politicians, philosophers, and ordinary people from the beginning of the domain’s history to its end. Originally published in Japanese, an English version of this book was published in 2022. Over 500 contributors were interviewed in the writing process.
Project 6M-TRAD: an initiative to maintain,share, and pass on Mito’s traditional performing artsThis project supports geisha performing the Tokiwa dance, a traditional dance troupe, and kagura [Shinto music and dance] performers. The project also aims to preserve the world of the geisha. We hope to expand the activities to include the preservation of Suifu [traditional] swimming techniques, Hokushin Itto-ryu [swordsmanship], and Suifu [paper] lanterns.
M-ART: supporting young artistsContemporary art from Mito was developed around Art Tower Mito. This project supports a variety of expressive activities, including street art by using vacant buildings and other sites as canvases.
M-GARDEN: also known as The Tokiwa Pavilion (The Kobun-tei pavilion in 2019 and beyond) was completed in July 2020M-GARDEN is an event space, conference hall, and wedding venue where visitors can enjoy the Tokiwa Shrine and Kairakuen Garden, which overlooks Lake Senba.
LuckyFM: Acquiring Ibaraki Broadcast SystemLuckyFM provides information and news on sports, music, and lifestyle, and educational content to people in and outside of Ibaraki Prefecture.
Project 10M-LAKE: A place of rest and relaxation by Lake SenbaThis will be a place where people can gather to appreciate the beauty of Lake Senba. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2023.
- More projects coming soon!
The Tenth Mito Downtown Revitalization Project Meeting
On July 30, 2020, committee and community members involved in the Mito Downtown Revitalization Project gathered for the tenth time. Since the project’s inception in February 2016, there have been ten projects and ten meetings. The committee plans to continue to take on new projects, with the hopes of lifting Ibaraki from the bottom of the nation-wide prefectural rankings. Keep an eye out for updates on the second phase of the project, coming soon.
The Ninth Mito Downtown Revitalization Project Meeting
At the ninth meeting for the Mito Downtown Revitalization Project, on November 20, 2019, Economist Mr. Kosuke Motani offered his comments and suggestions for the future of the project. The meeting covered several important topics including:
1) Status reports on previous projects including the Ibaraki Robots, M-WORK, and M-ART.
2) A report on a project in progress of M-GARDEN.
3) An announcement of projects being considered including potentially acquiring a local media company and a project called M-NIGHT.
The next meeting will be held in six months.Thank you to everyone involved for their continued support.
M-GARDEN: A Relaxing Garden to Overlook Lake Senba!
On May 10, 2019, a press conference was held to announce the opening of M-GARDEN. The space is inspired by the famous Mito daimyo Nariaki Tokugawa. The design concept was based on what Tokugawa may have chosen if he was alive in 2019. The first floor will be an event space and full kitchen, with a room for private accommodation upstairs. Built for both residents and tourists, the space overlooks the beautiful Lake Senba.
We aim to build a space that can be cherished by the Mito community. Overlooked by Kairaku Garden, Lake Senba is located in central Mito. It is a peaceful tourist destination, adjacent to the Tokiwa Shrine. —----------
2018 Town Hall Meeting
On November 21, 2018,, a town hall meeting was held for residents and community members at Art Tower Mito. In order to incorporate the opinions of locals, these meetings are a crucial part of the Mito Downtown Revitalization Project.
M-HISTORY: Lecture by Dr. Michael Thornton
Mito and the Politics of Reform in Early Modern Japan examines the history of Mito, which was once the headquarters of Mito Domain, one of three senior branches of the ruling Tokugawa family. In the nineteenth century, Mito became the birthplace of a revolutionary ideology that transformed Japan into a modern, imperial nation-state. The book focuses on the stories of Mito’s politicians, philosophers, and ordinary people from the beginning of the domain’s history to its end.
The author, Dr. Michael Thornton, grew up in Japan (Kobe and Tokyo) before attending Yale University, where he received a BA in history in 2010. After brief stints in Germany and Japan, he went on to receive his PhD in history from Harvard in May 2018. He currently teaches Japanese history at Yale University.
(GLOBIS News and Events) Harvard Historian Shared Mito's Rich History with the World
I grew up in the Village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture. The housing complex where I lived was surrounded by rice paddies. A wooded area was cleared to build my elementary school. After coming home from school, I would change into boots and go play in the rice paddies with a bucket, a small shovel, and a net. I caught crayfish and tadpoles in the paddies and beetles and snakes in the brush. Every day I would play outside until sunset.
Yoshito Hori on Changing Japan
The first G1 Ibaraki was held in Mito in April 2018. The event was organized by GLOBIS Founder and President, Yoshito Hori. The G1 Institute hosts conferences across Japan, gathering leaders across industries to discuss and paint a vision for the future of Japan.
The 2018 Ibaraki Robots Season Ends in a Dramatic Loss
Throughout Iwaki Arena, fans and players hung their heads in disappointment and wiped away tears. The season came to a sudden end in May 2018, when the Robots lost the regional championship. Just five points away from a win, it was a sad way to end the season. We look forward to celebrating the 2019 season with everyone soon.
[Nikkei Column] M-SPO: An Arena Cafe Opens in Downtown Mito
The Robot’s second B-League season is starting in September 2017. There will be two non-Japanese players and three Japanese players added to the roster this season. Team practices are in full swing. To increase hype for the Robots, M-SPO, an open area with a covered court, food trucks, green space, and cafes, is now available to the public.
[Nikkei Column] My Impressions One Year into Running a Basketball Team
My first official season as owner of the Ibaraki Robots has come to an end. The team had a pretty good season, winning seven games in a row. The final game even had over 2700 people in attendance! I feel pride and a sense of accomplishment, but also am sad that this season has come to a close.
[Nikkei Column] The Difficulties Managing a Professional Sports Team
Almost one year has passed since I officially became owner of the Ibaraki Robots. The B-League, which we joined in 2016, is now in the final weeks of its season. I have had many challenging experiences this year, but have learned a lot.
[Nikkei Column] The Common Denominator of Successful Local Companies
The other day, I returned to Mito to give a lecture on management strategies of local companies. I don’t consider this my area of expertise, so I did some research before the talk. I organized companies into roughly three categories.
A New Era of Professional Basketball: The Launch of the Ibaraki Robots!
The Ibaraki Robots are officially starting their season. The first game will be an away game against the Aomori Watts on October 24. The first home game in Mito will be on October 1.
Cool Ibaraki: Dramatic Changes are Coming
In early August, I participated in the 56th Mito Komon Festival. The festival started with a fireworks show over Lake Senba on Friday night. Komon-san-dori, the main street in front of Mito Station, was closed to vehicles on Saturday and Sunday. Busy with people, there were also floats, bon-odori dancing, and shrines being hauled on the shoulders of locals. Both sides of the street were lined with stalls selling food and toys. There was an outdoor concert, creating a very lively atmosphere.
The Ibaraki Robots : Mito’s Newest Basketball Team!
“I want to give back to my hometown of Mito. What would be the best way to build a community?” With this in mind, I launched the Mito Downtown Revitalization Project. Through contacts developed at that meeting, in April, I became the owner of the Ibaraki Robots, a professional basketball team based in Mito.
A Step Toward Regional Development: Breathing Life Back into Downtown Mito
“I quit. Those days are done.” In August 2015, I attended a reunion of my junior high school swimming club in my hometown of Mito. When I asked one of my senior classmen how he was doing at his sushi restaurant, that was the response he sadly murmured. I could not find the words to comfort him at that moment. He had always dreamed of taking over his family’s restaurant.
Greetings from the chairman
”My hometown of Mito is the birthplace of the Mito Domain,
which led the Meiji Restoration.”
Chairman Yoshito Hori
The region has produced many revolutionary thinkers who were thought leaders of a new era in Japan long ago. However, looking around Mito today, supermarkets that once stood are gone and department stores have all left the area. The once bustling downtown is now filled with abandoned buildings, vacant lots, and shuttered shops. Chain stores replaced small retailers.With the surge of vehicle ownership, the once bustling main street, Komon-san-dori, no longer has the lively ambiance it had in my childhood.
I attended elementary to high school in Mito. I can vividly recall those days when the city was prosperous. That is why I am especially saddened by the current situation and, at the same time, why I have an intense feeling that something must be done. When I was invited to Mito for the Mito Ambassadors Meeting, I had an opportunity to talk with Yasushi Takahashi, the Mayor of Mito. I told him that we should invest in revitalizing the city and breathe new life into the area, and that I would lead the project.This was the moment that the Mito Downtown Revitalization Project was set into motion. Mayor Takahashi was present at the first meeting, and from there we continued to move forward.
There have been broad suggestions for regional development across Japan, but they have yet to yield nationwide results. Each project has been a one-off. Instead of devolving policies and dispersing national resources, projects have been concentrated in just one area. In order to build effective revitalization models, multiple projects have to be simultaneously implemented based on a bold concept. With the Mito Downtown Revitalization project, we aim to learn from outside the prefecture and focus on attracting investments. In the words of Tokugawa Mitsukuni, “if wisdom and strength are lacking, gather them from elsewhere.” We need to encourage the people of Mito and to bring in people, capital, and knowledge from elsewhere.
The Mito Downtown Revitalization Project includes Yoshimichi Hoshino, President of Hoshino Resorts; Kojun Nishima, President of Sumitomo Realty & Development; Muneaki Masuda, President of Culture Convenience Club (CCC); and Hirohisa Sato, President of Balnibarbi. We are also honored to be joined by businesspeople originally from Mito like:Michio Fukuda, Chairman of Adastria, and Shokei Suda, President of Enigmo. With their help and the help of other volunteers in the area, we will continue to promote the revitalization of Mito.
It has been 37 years since I left Mito. I studied in Kyoto and Boston, established GLOBIS in Tokyo, and I devoted myself to raising my five sons. I regret not having contributed to my hometown at all. That changes with the Mito Downtown Revitalization Project. Together, let’s make Mito a model for revitalization!