Connect Our history to Our Future
Members of Woven by Toyota

How Woven City Connects to the Future

The extraordinary history and traditions of the Higashi-Fuji Plant make its site fertile ground for building Woven City. In the following paragraphs, we'll hear from members of Woven by Toyota, who work toward creating our future by evolving the press facility and joining the Toyota School. We'll hear how they carry and project the spirit and accomplishments of those who came before. Thanks to the now-historical Higashi-Fuji Plant leadership, actualizing our bold vision of the future is now possible.

Phase 1 of Woven City construction is underway at the former Higashi-Fuji Plant site. Sho Mizuno, who leads architecture, reflects on the reasons for renovating, rather than demolishing, the original press facility.

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"In the fall of 2020, I visited the site while it was still operating to assess what could be saved or reused. The passion was evident in the ingenuity of craftsmanship known as ‘karakuri (simple but intelligent automation of processes based on physical principles – with no drives, sensors, electricity or compressed air.) Along with the respect for the skillful mechanisms in place, I also felt a strong connection with the local community when admiring the many messages displayed in the cafeteria. They were from the elementary school students who had participated in the plant tour. I was deeply moved by the fact that it's not only meaningless ‘objects' being passed on but the philosophy and culture of ‘monozukuri' and the deep love and consideration of everyone at TMEJ for the local community. It was important for us to make the site a place the people who worked there could call home—and a place that would continue to be connected to the community. As a valuable source of craftsmanship—the decision to keep the press came naturally for us."

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A message from an elementary school student on a tour

Although demolition had already begun on some parts of the plant, the team proposed that Toyota preserve the historic press facility. This proposal, in the spring of 2021, obtained quick approval.

Tatsuya Ota, who served as a guide for the inspection group, recalls, "It was quite a thing." At the time, he was an employee of TMEJ and belonged to the Administration Div. of the Higashi-Fuji Plant, but now he works for Woven by Toyota. He says he was very emotional about the plant's planned closure when he had to accommodate the inspection group.
"I had no choice but to tell these people exactly what I was thinking, and I wanted to ensure I conveyed it properly. I tried to explain my thoughts but felt strongly that the inspection couldn't be performed with apathy. I did my best to guide them through the pain I was experiencing, and I think they understood how I felt."

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Meanwhile, Mizuno discusses press facility as follows:
"Pressing is the very first process where an automobile's white body (pre-painting) is created. It serves as the starting point for vehicle production. I think it was fate that we could preserve the press facility, and I would like to make it a wellspring of craftsmanship in Woven City."

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Sharing Visions & Passion

In the transition from the Higashi-Fuji Plant to Woven City, what is inherited is not only a part of the building and the manufacturing culture but also the people's thoughts and the passion they put into their work.
TMEJ and Toyota Motor Corporation's Higashi-Fuji Technical Center have run the Toyota School since 1977. Even after the plant ceased operations in 2020, the beloved Social Studies field trip program continues.

Ota, who was in charge of the program at TMEJ, played a central role in approaching elementary schools in the city. They changed it from a plant tour to a visiting lecture program.
"Before I retired from TMEJ, I wanted to keep the fire burning and somehow connect it to the future," says Ota, "I wanted to do what I could to show my gratitude."
Woven by Toyota also began to participate starting in 2022.Remi Ono, who handles the Toyota School with TMEJ and Toyota Motor Corporation alongside Ota, says:
"When I began working at Woven by Toyota in 2021, the Higashi-Fuji plant was closed. Even so, I want to ensure that I properly portray the visions of everyone at TMEJ, Ota, and many others who were integral to the plant and its many contributions while it was in operation. I think of them and try to project their legacy every time I stand before a group of students."

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In these visiting lectures, Woven by Toyota provides elementary school students a virtual experience of walking through a digital twin of a complete Woven City. Junior high school students are introduced to the history of the Higashi-Fuji Plant and asked to think about what they would like to do for the sake of others. With a smile, Ota and Ono confess that they are often surprised and impressed by the creativity and originality of the children's answers, many of which would never have been thought of by adults.

Visiting lecture program comes to junior high schools in Susono City 2023

Says Ota, "I love President Akio Toyoda's ambition to become the ‘best in town." We have always aimed to be loved and relied upon by the local community. For me, it's more important than being the best in the world or even in Japan. The future is being created here in Susono City, and I hope that the children here know we are building it for them. I want it to be clear that we are here to collaborate with our neighbors and build a bright future that we can all enjoy."

Connecting to the Future

There are several initiatives that members of Woven by Toyota have explicitly designed to connect the legacy of the Higashi-Fuji Plant to the future.

Preserving press facility…
Mizuno explains, "The employees of the Higashi-Fuji Plant would eventually leave the plant, so there was no need for them to work so diligently for Woven City. That being said, I believe that TMEJ's strong desire to connect the history of the Higashi-Fuji Plant to the future is all due to this ongoing philosophy of working for the sake of others.Although the members will change, we must preserve that way of thinking, and I think that's just what we need to do."

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And when it comes to the Toyota School…
Says Ota, "This initiative expresses our gratitude to the people in the community who have been so kind to us. Teachers sometimes tell me they vividly remember participating as elementary school students. I want to continue these activities, remembering how thankful we are to the local community for accepting Toyota since establishing the technical center and plant."
Ono concludes, "Despite the plant's closing, Ota and the other long-time staff have been instrumental in connecting the Toyota School and other community-based activities and events with the company's long history. Through these efforts, I would like the local community to know about their intentions, experiences, and the history of the Higashi-Fuji Plant and how we continue to work together toward common goals."

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Sho Mizuno

Mizuno has worked for Toyota Motor Corporation on domestic and international building and plant construction projects and has been involved in Woven City since 2020. He has worked on the Woven City master plan, other plans for the future, and the renovation project of the press facility.

Tatsuya Ota

Ota had joined Central Motor as an engineer. When three companies merged, he was in charge of administration and Toyota School in Administration Div. After resigning in 2021, he joined Woven by Toyota, where he was responsible for liaising with local governments and communities.

Remi Ono

After joining Toyota Motor Corporation, Ono was in charge of external and public relations with foreign countries. In 2021, she was transferred to Woven by Toyota, where she currently oversees and manages programs for the Toyota School.

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