Friday, May 23, 2014

Japan Trip XXIII: The Hobonichi Office

After our interview with Shigesato Itoi, we ended up in another meeting while waiting for the rest of the group to return. Then, with everyone there, we were given a tour of the office.

Lindsay would often remark about how similar the Fangamer office felt to the Hobonichi office. After walking around the place, I could see what she meant.

The office was all on one floor of an office building. It was divided up into two basic sections: one part was a huge, open office space filled with lines of desks (not cubicles, really) where each employee had a work space, working on... I'm not really sure what. At the time, I didn't have the presence of mind to try to figure out what they were working on.

The open area also included a lounge area, complete with couches, a TV, an aquarium, and a library of DVDs, both of movies and TV shows (including a bunch of American TV show box sets).

The whole open area felt very light and bright. The office had a tendency to use light-colored wood for furniture rather than dark stained wood, which made the whole place feel brighter, I think.

The other half of the office was more enclosed: meeting rooms of various sizes, a kitchen complete with a washer and dryer for employees' laundry, a larger room for merchandise, media, and who knows what else, and a single, separate office for Shigesato Itoi himself, right next to the traditional room where we performed the interview. All of these rooms were down a few winding hallways.

The meeting rooms were about what you'd expect: little more than a table and some chairs. Each one had a name and a theme, I think, including one which was MOTHER themed. It was all very functional: places where groups could work and be loud or have private conversations without affecting anybody in the main office area.

We got a brief tour of the kitchen, which was small. The appliances, in typical Japanese fashion, looked mostly like artifacts from the 80s. However, the kitchen was notably organized and clean, which was impressive for a small kitchen in an office with so many people. And, of course, having a washer and dryer on hand at an office sounds wonderful.

The media/storage room was huge, almost as big as the open office area. There were mobile TV stations, tables, and all sorts of things which someone was in the process of inventorying.

Itoi's office was itself pretty interesting: it was a long room with a table that allowed the office to function as a meeting room. There was a divider between the meeting table and Itoi's actual desk, which was covered in all sorts of things. The area on the other side of the divider felt very private, so I didn't get a good look at it all. It felt a bit cluttered, though, from what I remember, though that might just be because the rest of the room, such as the meeting area, was comparatively sparse.

After the tour they gave us a bunch of gifts before seeing us out. So, we took our leave, ate one last time at the Rail Gun Sushi place in Shibuya, then headed home. The next morning we boarded a plane to return to Tucson. What a trip.

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