For me the stay in Toride city is always an interesting one. And that is because of the way that they are taking a community problem and trying to resolve it. Toride is one of the many bedroom cities of the greater Tokyo area that were once thriving and are now suffering with weaning populations and declining activities. What I find most interesting about Toride is the way in which they are reinventing themselves. A creative young teacher from the local branch of a Tokyo art school decided that he wanted to give back to the community by revitalizing it in part with art.
His projects often serve multiple purposes such as giving his artists and himself a showcase for their projects, introduce art to children, or cut down on litter during local summer festivals. Now as an aspiring artist myself, when I came to the city last year I loved what I saw and thought that it was a great idea.
The leader of the Toride art project, Mr. Sobajima and I made a connection and built a friendship. So during my stay in Toride this year, he invited me to come to his office to take part and help him with a project. I jumped at the chance.
We designed trash boxes (in whatever way that we chose) for a large summer festival, to help with a major litter problem, but in the past two years since Mr.Sobajima began helping them, it has been drastically cut down. So I came to his office and got right to work. A fellow artist and friend of his joined us which led to the idea of the three of us all to draw on one trash box as a collaborative effort. It was a lot of fun, and definitely had a striking appearance when finished.
Sadly I had to leave the city before the festival began, so I was unable to see our project in action, but I hope that our box was used well, helpful and inspiring. Toride really is moving along in a great way and I hope are painting a bright future ahead of them.
(Cody Permenter, USA)