Kombu kelp is one of the most important ingredients in Japanese cuisine traditionally harvested in Rishiri Town on the northern coast of Hokkaido.
Rishiri Town is ageing much faster than the Japan’s national average with 41% of the area’s population over 65. This means that despite abundant natural resources the lack of manpower means the delicacy could disappear from menus.
Geometry Japan designed ‘Kombu Hosu! Hosu!’ to address the issue by increasing awareness of Kombu kelp drying among young people and game-style web content allows users to experience the challenges and beauty of the job.
Users dry three-metre-long Kombu kelp (the average length of Kombu kelp) by shaking the phone while keeping the phone close to them. Once the virtual drying process has started a bossy and over-reactive fisherman captain guides the user, encouraging them and once the game is completed he asks the user to consider a job application.
As Mr Toshiya Hiranuma, Supervisor of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Promotion Department of Rishiri Town Government office explains drying Kombu kelp requires significant physical labour: “Since junior high school, I’ve dried Kombu kelp myself but nowadays young people are not into it anymore, because it is tough work. The whole industry has been struggling with labour shortages caused by ageing and depopulation. We really need our younger generation to join in but didn’t know how to. Geometry Japan’s idea fortunately came in at the right moment and we enjoyed working with them to make this idea happen. I think the success factor is an unusual combination of drying Kombu kelp and mobile technology. Hopefully many people will experience drying Kombu kelp and ultimately apply for the actual job, revitalizing Rishiri Town.”
Fumitaka Takano, ECD of Geometry Japan who led the project added: “The challenge is not just the number of applicants. We’d like applicants not to leave mid-season and this campaign makes it easier for people to experience drying Kombu kelp while bridging the gap between the fun and hard part of the job. Our young team members tried to introduce the ideas of gamification and entertainment and carefully crafted the story and the character with an appropriate tone and manner that anyone can enjoy. We hope this contribution will help to rejuvenate the Kombu kelp industry.”