Fab Lab Kamakura - Creating local bonds and creative lifestyles through manufacturing


Have you ever heard of the term "FabLab"?
Do you know what is going on there?
The word "Fab" in Fab Lab is a coined word that combines the two meanings of "Fabrication" and "Fabulous." It is a ``Lab'' that is a base for a movement that collaborates with various people in each region and transmits and spreads information throughout the world via the Internet.
We spoke to Yuka Watanabe, the representative of Fab Lab Kamakura in Kamakura City, about the "manufacturing" that is born from Fab Labs and connects people, generations, regions, and the world.

Interview&Text: Rumiko Ozeki

The workshop, equipped with cutting-edge digital equipment, was a 128-year-old sake brewery!

About a 5-minute walk from the rather quiet west exit of Kamakura Station, which is crowded with tourists on holidays, you will find an old storehouse that looks like it has a lot of history, and you will find Fab Lab Kamakura.

--It's really cool that the workshop, which is equipped with cutting-edge digital equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters, is located in a renovated Meiji-era storehouse, but why did you choose the storehouse?


Watanabe : Yui no Kura was originally a 128-year-old sake brewery in Akita Prefecture, and was relocated to Kamakura in 2004.
Fab Lab Kamakura was established in 2011 as the first Fab Lab in Japan.
A workshop equipped with cutting-edge digital machine tools, born in the green and traditional culture of Kamakura, a little far from the city center, is not just a workshop, but a "new place" with a global philosophy of "Fab Lab". To convey this message, this sake brewery was perfect to symbolize local and global, old culture and new technology.

--It certainly has an interesting exterior that makes you wonder what the building is doing here.
Now, I understand that a Fab Lab is a workshop for "manufacturing", but how is it actually used?

Watanabe : Fab Lab is a workshop that aims to make manufacturing more accessible, but its purpose is a little different from the DIY corners found at home centers. It is not a place where you can simply use machine tools or ask someone to make something for you.

People who think ``I wish something like this existed'' or ``Maybe I should try making it myself'' come here, design it while exchanging opinions with other members, build it themselves while being taught how to operate the machine, and then This is a workshop that aims to publish data on the Internet and share ideas with people all over the world.

It is also a base for creating networks that transcend generations through ``manufacturing'' in the region.

About the role played by the presence of “Fab Lab” in the region

--I see. Why did you decide to create a workshop like that?

Watanabe : One is that machine tools that are compact and can produce products in small lots, rather than large-scale machines for mass production, have become more readily available.
From modern industrialization to today, the ``people who make things'' and ``the people who use/consume'' have become separated in manufacturing, and the concept of ``making things by yourself'' has been lost among the general public.

--I agree. I feel like the last time I worked on something by myself was when I was a student.

Watanabe : ``Creating'' is one of human talents. It is said that in the near future, due to further technological innovations, more and more human jobs will be taken over by machines (artificial intelligence). It is said that when today's elementary school students become adults and enter the workforce, 60% of them will be working in jobs that don't currently exist.

What is needed to deal with this "unknown work" is "creativity" and "collaboration" (the ability to cooperate with each other).
Now that even small workshops can use cutting-edge digital equipment, I would like to make manufacturing more accessible and increase the number of people who can create things.

The other thing is to create connections with people who make things in the region. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, people have begun to talk about the importance of "local bonds." And the community is actually supported by the people who live there during the day.


--For many people, there is a distance between where they live and where they work. Working people spend very little time in the area.

Watanabe : During the day, people in the area are seniors who have retired from work, mothers raising children, and children. For them, this is neither a school nor a company, but it serves as a place where they can create and learn.
For example, an old man who was an excellent engineer before his retirement consults with junior high school students about prototyping their inventions, showing a connection between people who create things regardless of age, gender, or title.

How can I join a Fab Lab?

--It seems that connections between people in the region are created through manufacturing.
Now, I want to participate in that Fab Lab! What should I do first when I think of this? It's not that I want to make anything concrete right now, but I just want to take a look at the atmosphere because it looks interesting.

Watanabe : At Fab Lab Kamakura, every Monday from 9 a.m., we do maintenance work on the storehouse where the lab is housed, or to put it simply, ``cleaning.'' Those who participate in the cleaning will be able to use the equipment until noon afterwards. We do not provide hourly rental services for equipment or equipment.

--First of all, you'll be participating in the cleaning! While cleaning together, you can get to know who the members are and what they do.

Watanabe : Yes. No reservations are required, so if you are interested, please try participating first.

It can be difficult and even dangerous to operate equipment that you are using for the first time, so we offer training courses for those who want to make something seriously or want to handle equipment. Held on weekends, you can learn how to use a 3D printer and laser cutter in a 2-hour course. This requires a reservation and charges apply.

--You can learn the basics properly. But when I suddenly try to make something, I have no idea what I can actually make...

Watanabe : It takes a certain amount of skill and steps to actually give form to an idea. There is a basic course where you can learn skills (FAB) for turning ideas into reality, such as data creation, programming, and electronic work, in 10 steps. By taking this course, even complete beginners will be able to create these kinds of works (photographs) in the end.


--funny! A box that displays the colorful scenery of Yokohama's fireworks when illuminated by an iPhone's flash, a calendar box that changes the color of the sky depending on the time, a sunflower box that greets you when you approach, and a scent sensor that lets you know when to change your cat's litter box. box? ? There are so many ideas!

Watanabe : First of all, I would like people to take these steps and experience the fun of coming up with an idea and creating something. Making things is fun! !

About the products and activities that were born from Fab Lab Kamakura and spread all over the world

--It looks like fun! ! What kinds of Fab Lab-like works and activities have actually been created here?

Watanabe : A leather craftsman learned how to use a laser cutter here and developed a leather slipper kit. Based on the Creative Commons license, the design data was shared with Fab Labs around the world and the slippers were created. One of Fab Lab's philosophies is to make data and know-how open.
Fab labs in each country use laser cutters to create new slippers with original designs based on the culture and climate of that country, based on the slipper blueprints.

14905471153_e0e248bf41_b KULUSKA slippers

--The design data created in Kamakura is being shared all over the world!

Watanabe : All products created at Fab Lab are intended to be made open and shared. For example, there is a cooking recipe site called Cookpad. Users post and publish recipes, and the creators also publish their own arrangements. It's that image.

--I see! It's easy to understand. What other attempts are there?

Watanabe : There is a project to make wood products using thinned wood. It is called " FUJIMOCK FES ", but it means a festival (FES) where ideas are turned into form (MOCK-UP) using thinned wood from Mt. Fuji (FUJI).
We conduct field work in the forest at the foot of Mt. Fuji, starting with felling trees under the guidance of experts, and finally, based on various ideas, we turn the wood into products in our Fab Lab.
People who normally work desk jobs in the city have the opportunity to go into the forest and learn about it, and then share ideas with everyone about what to make from it.

――You can learn about and enjoy both natural environment protection activities and manufacturing.

About the future of Fab Lab Kamakura

--I was aware that a Fab Lab was a small town workshop equipped with digital equipment, but I had no idea that there was such a deep philosophy and concept behind it.
Lastly, could you tell us about your future activities?

Watanabe : Since the first Fab Lab in Japan was opened in Kamakura (and Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture) in 2011, there are currently around 16 Fab Labs in Japan. It has spread to more than 600 locations in 89 countries around the world.
Thanks to technological innovation, the hardware environment for manufacturing has become so compact and low-cost that it can be placed close to us, but there are still opportunities and educational environments to foster the creative spirit of "making something by yourself" and the intangible side. is not yet in place.

A place where you can experience things like making what you need from everyday life yourself, making what you need in your community or town, or borrowing the wisdom and strength of many people if you can't do it on your own. I would like to expand its role as a place for nurturing people.

Kamakura is home to many creators with skills such as carving, woodworking, and dyeing, and there are many shops selling crafts and miscellaneous goods. If things created locally in Kamakura are shared with the world, the charm of Kamakura will also spread to the world.

By turning the city of Kamakura into one big Fab Lab, we provide an opportunity for people to experience the joy of making things, improve their skills, and even be able to ``design their own way of working and living.'' I want to be a place where I can do that.

Next year, we are also planning an international conference called "FabLearn Asia 2017," which will be held for the second time in Japan. It's still early days, but I'd like to try out various things to see what kind of opinions and practices emerge regarding digital fabrication and the possibilities of future education.

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