Working Outside of the Box
Business locations for trailblazers willing to defy convention
By Adario Strange
Yokohama: Known by many of Tokyo’s working class as a commuter’s paradise, Yokohama’s global influence is fueled in part by a highly active hand in hosting international conventions. With a wide range of foreign small-business owners in operation, including the many vendors populating the area’s Chinatown district, Yokohama offers the promise of niche-oriented business opportunity within the soothing confines of a suburban environment, with easy access to Tokyo.
In November, Yokohama will also serve as the venue for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, shining an additional spotlight on an already vibrant business community.
Hokkaido: Famed for its hearty snow sports, ski culture and resort infrastructure, for years Hokkaido has served as a remote attraction for adventurous expats hoping to merge their love of nature with an entrepreneurial spirit. Assuming the region’s distance from the rest of the planet doesn’t put you off, the area’s low rents and waves of seasonal consumer traffic make this an attractive prospect for those offering innovative products and services.
Okinawa: With its reputation for year round mild weather, surfing tourism, and a relatively large population of foreign consumers, Okinawa presents an enticing business path for those hoping to create services catering specifically to the region’s expat community, as well as the local populace, while benefiting from the slow pace and relaxing atmosphere of the region’s beach culture.
Nagano: Acting as yet another hub of Japanese ski resort culture, along with a substantial wine lover’s community, Nagano is one of Japan’s best-kept secrets. Centrally located in the middle of Japan, and just over an hour from Tokyo, low rents and high traffic from ski enthusiasts make this area a unique opportunity for those looking for large spaces at low-cost, as well as a great quality of life.
Clean and Green Cities
By Ching-Li Tor
Foreign companies interested in smart grid technologies and the energy sector may want to keep an eye on Yokohama, Kitakyushu and Kansai Science City, which covers parts of Kyoto, Osaka and Nara Prefectures.
These will be the first cities in Japan to experience the smart grid system that integrates renewable energy such as solar and wind power. The public-private trial run, set to start this fiscal year, involves 5,000 households, and the total cost of the project is estimated at 100 billion yen over the next five years. The system is meant to encourage green behavior by giving customers real-time data about their energy consumption and by providing live updates about electricity bills.
Major consulting firm Accenture Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Nippon Steel Corp will serve as project coordinators in Yokohama, Toyota and Kitakyushu, respectively, along with the municipal governments. The Kyoto prefectural government will supervise the smart grid in Kansai Science City.
CITY PULSE data sourced from Japan External Trade Organization.