Organized by students for students on April 17 and 18, 2021, the inaugural Wakaba* Festival celebrated the opening of Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza (hereafter Taki Plaza), Tokyo Tech’s new student exchange hub, with a variety of events. Despite the ongoing obstacles posed by COVID-19, student organizers managed to utilize the facilities of the new building while taking the necessary measures to keep visitors safe.
The success of the inaugural bash means that Wakaba Festival will now be held every spring at Taki Plaza.
* Wakaba is the Japanese word for “fresh young leaves,” which are often associated with April and May.
Cheers to new encounters!
Taki Plaza was designed to be a space where international and Japanese students connect, deepen ties, and create a better future together. With this concept in mind, the Taki Plaza Gardeners — the student group in charge of organizing the Wakaba Festival — hosted various events where visitors came face to face with new people, activities, and ideas while learning more about the landmark exchange hub. This approach to the multifaceted facility and its users was encapsulated in the Wakaba Festival slogan “Cheers to new encounters.”
At the Main Stairs Stage, visitors walked a tightrope at a height of 100 m using virtual reality Oculus Quest equipment and battled it out on Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. game using a massive nine-screen multi-monitor. Ten student groups also gave presentations on stage. Spectators gradually filled the main stairs to view the performances, creating a warm atmosphere on both days.
Talk events and joint exhibition
In the event space in the B2 floor, students gave talks on various topics. One particularly popular event among first-year students was the joint info session by student exchange student groups.
The B2 workshop space hosted a joint exhibition of works created by students in the Tokyo Tech Photo Club, Design Society, Tokyo Tech Art Club, and Digital Creators Club traP.
Student exchange event
Student exchange groups were busy in the B1 exchange event space on both days. In addition to hosting a monozukuri competition focused on international development, the groups also organized a riddle-solving contest about Ookayama Campus and held a suguroku contest in English and Chinese. Throughout the weekend, these efforts brought plenty of Japanese students together with international students, achieving one of the main goals of the festival.
Creative workshop by tech-related clubs
In the second-floor workshop space, technology-related student clubs joined forces to host a creative workshop which also doubled as an introduction to club activities. Despite the need for social distancing, many showed up to demonstrate the creativity and passion for which Tokyo Tech student are known. This was a great opportunity to establish Taki Plaza as a creative space from which bright, new ideas emerge.
Tatami-floored Break Booth
Visitors to the second floor could also play board games or just relax in a tatami-floored area known as the Break Booth. Interactions here often required no language at all, paying homage to the borderless interaction for which Taki Plaza was created.
Attic Lab event
At the Attic Office, members of the student-run coworking space Attic Lab hosted a roundtable discussion between students and mentors, including working adults. A hands-on exhibition of some of the creations by Attic Lab community members was also held.
Comments from leader of Taki Plaza Gardeners (TPGs)
2nd year, Transdisciplinary Science and Engineering
I feel that this event was a great chance for students to visit Taki Plaza and create opportunities for exchange. The goal of the TPG group is to make this facility a comfortable space for all Tokyo Tech students, and we believe that interaction between students is essential to achieving this goal. We will continue to organize events that create student exchange, and greatly appreciate all the support we receive.
Overall, the various exchange-themed sessions during the inaugural Wakaba Festival successfully utilized the special characteristics of each floor and space in Taki Plaza.
The Taki Plaza Gardeners student group will continue to plan and manage events at the facility in line with its original concept of student exchange and support.