PLANTALK vol. 1 ~ How The PLANTIO Project Will Change Shibuya ~ Shibuya Ward Head Ken Hasebe x PLANTIO CEO Takayoshi Serizawa Dialogue Interview Prequel

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Shibuya ward head Ken Hasebe and Serizawa from PLANTIO both were born and raised in Shibuya, and are both 3rd generation Shibuya residents. There are many connections and similarities between the town that Hasebe aims for, and the future that Serizawa pictures. 

What is it that PLANTIO can do for the town of Shibuya?The effective use of city rooftops has been a topic. It’s a waste to leave it as just land! 

Serizawa: When we met at the event in Shibuya, I mentioned that we were testing a planter powered by AI (PLANTIO HOME). We’ve actually updated our project quite a bit since then. 

Of course we are continuing to test the planter, however we realized that we should start by creating urban farming communities first. We call this, “PLANTIO SPOT”. 

Hasebe: When I first met Serizawa-san and heard his story, I felt a great possibility in the planter that could manage vegetables through IT. I also have a farm on the rooftop of my home, but it’s not going so well. I thought it was amazing how the planter could support that. In Shibuya, utilizing IT to create a better life, is something I wanted to work on, so it overlaps with what I want to do. It’s a great idea to effectively use the rooftops. Rooftops are open spaces, so how to effectively utilize those spaces in a city is a topic. I was constantly thinking of ways to utilize the space so this hits right on the bat. 

Serizawa: Its a waste to keep the rooftop as wasted space. We want to use it effectively 

Hasebe: We go up to our rooftop often to care for our farm, but our surrounding neighbors have nothing going on on their roofs. During the Jingu firework festival, many people went up on their roofs and there was a sort of unity. It’s a scene you can only see in the city. I feel that way every year, so I wanted to do something related to the roofs, and I was thinking about it for a long time. 

From the perspective of the administration, they either wanted to utilize building’s roofs to create farms, or to place solar panels.  It’s a selective system, but to create a community through farming is a good idea as well. Making the rooftops green is a good global warming countermeasure. 

Serizawa: Right, in Shibuya, I want to implement the Capital Close System that was implemented in London during the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012. Currently within the existing community-based farms, there are rental farms. It’s quite popular, however since there’s not much land in the city, it’s placed mostly in the suburbs. It’s quite hard to get to, and thus more popular with the older generations.To lower that hurdle, I want to make vegetable growing cool, hip, and filled with entertainment. We want to collaborate with an NGO “Ugly Activity”, and farm rental companies to create ugly spots where people can enjoy vegetable growing on their spare time. 

Hasebe: Sounds Interesting! 

”I want to make this project successful and have Shibuya be the model, and for it to spread nation-wide! 

Serizawa: I want to not only create a farm space above office and commercial facilities, but  I want to create a space where people can sit and have lunch or dinner there as well. Maybe we can utilize the pop-up chef system, or have neighbouring restaurants cater. I want to hold events and workshops from time to time. 

Hasebe: That’s fantastic! 

Serizawa: But, Shibuya is the only ward within the 23 wards that doesn’t have funding for urban farming! 

“Shibuya is a city with transmission power. Whatever Shibuya does receives attention. We should utilize that merit” says Serizawa, Shibuya ward head. 

Hasebe: We are in the midst of thinking about that. From this April, Shibuya ward will start the Shibuya Future Design Institute. It’s a collaboration between the public and industries to create and change Shibuya. I think it’s great for this topic to be put in the initial menu. There, you can create a consortium of projects. In the Sasazuka, Hatsugaya, Hatsudai area called “Sasahatatsu” in Shibuya, we are communicating the area’s attraction. Along the Koshu Highway, there are many attractive towns. So if you were to collaborate with restaurants, please do so in the Sasahatatsu area. I can introduce you to restaurants that you can possibly collaborate with. 


Ken Hasebe 
Born in Shibuya ward Jingumae, in 1972. After working for Hakuhodo, he created the NPO “Green Bird”. He started activities around 60 areas in the nation (starting from Harajuku and Omotesando), to create promotions to stop littering. From 2003, he became part of the Shibuya ward parliament. And in 2015, he became head of the ward. 


Second Part