Since April 2020, emergency declarations have been issued all over Japan calling for people to stay home and restricting the opening hours of stores. Every time a state of emergency is declared, the entire country suffers a variety of economic losses, including decreased revenue at tourist attractions and suspension of events. The impact of these repeated emergency declarations has been especially great on restaurants.
COVID-19 has also restricted the movement of people internationally and the economy around Tsukiji Market, which has long relied on tourism, is suffering. In addition to a sharp decline in global tourism, there has also been a decrease in lunchtime business due to widespread transitions to remote work. This includes our lunchtime business– Neuromagic’s office is located parallel to the banks of the Sumida River, a five minute walk from the Tsukiji Outer market.
All of these factors led us to wonder how we could use our experience in digital business and knowledge of service design to help our neighbors in Tsukiji.
As an Experience Agency, our goal was to create a system that connects the thoughts of restaurants in need with customers who want to take care of those restaurants. By connecting the dots of support services around the world inspired by COVID-19, we intended to create a more meaningful experience for the community. To that end, the Neuromagic team spent about one week in April 2020 rapidly creating a website platform that consolidates information and useful resources from around the world, and has since evolved into a unique food delivery service.
KATTE.info is the initial website we launched in order to provide support for restaurants in Tsukiji. It had a variety of features we hoped would connect the dots and become a support platform for restaurants in general.
For Restaurant Supporters
We featured supportive hashtags for social networking sites like twitter Twitter, future reservation (prepayment) based services such as Saki-Meshi and Kitch-Hike, as well as support for restaurants through hometown tax payments.
- Tax rebate information
For Restaurant Owners
Our first and most immediately actionable addition to KATTE.info was the collection and sharing of takeout maps, prepayment services, and crowdfunding resources. We tried to look for ways to turn challenge into opportunity while acknowledging the difficulties of taking business online, starting delivery services, or using food trucks.
- Posting take-out maps
- Sharing prepayment services
- Sign up for delivery services
- Going Online Challenge
- Food Trucks
Online Workshop with Restaurant Owners
We gathered local restaurant owners, listened to the problems they face, and worked with them to come up with creative solutions using online whiteboard service Miro. Many restaurant owners were unfamiliar with online whiteboard software, so we rehearsed beforehand to make sure the workshop went smoothly.
Then, we took the needs and ideas that were shared, and categorized and prioritized them to see what was actionable.
KATTE has gone from being a restaurant information portal to a curated delivery service
With the easing of restrictions on emergency declarations and the gradual resumption of business, we decided that it was time to reconsider whether the restaurant information portal was meeting the needs of restaurants and diners, and whether it was fulfilling its milestones. As a result of our discussions, we decided to close the original portal in May 2021 and focus solely on the Tsukiji Nabe Delivery Service Project.
After discussions with Tsukiji businesses, we launched the “Tsukiji Hashigo Nabe” project in November 2020 in collaboration with Tsukiji Hashigo Sake, a local business organization in Tsukiji. We develop and sell a set of hot pot ingredients using carefully selected ingredients from various shops and restaurants in Tsukiji. Local businesses and community organizations are in charge of preparing and distributing the ingredients, and work cooperatively with the Neuromagic team to plan seasonal hot pots, from promotion to sales and website management. At the same time, we advise the local businesses on how to develop their business models.
For this project, the Neuromagic team met with a team of businesses from the Tsukiji market once a week to discuss their seasonal menu. The team also worked on promotional materials such as photography, flyers, copywriting design, social media management, and product manuals.
We asked the project copywriter and web content creator Kumiko Ihara, for tips on how the KATTE team was able to make the project run smoothly:
Building a relationship of trust with the Tsukiji business team was of utmost importance. Running a restaurant is their livelihood, and if they thought we were “just doing it for fun” or “doing it on the side,” the relationship would cease to exist. That’s why we need to show them that we are serious about this project.
As we continue to face unprecedented challenges, we can only continue our efforts to find and solve essential issues in our communities.
I think it’s important to have fun while doing it, because if you push yourself too hard, you won’t last!
From now on, KATTE will also be developing products other than hot pot towards the end of the year, so stay tuned for more delicious offerings.
Ching Ying Lin
Originally from Taiwan, currently based in Tokyo.
Chingying comes from a marketing background and is currently responsible for workshop design, sustainability and design seminar management, and supporting companies with sustainable transformation.
In addition to sustainable development and circular economy, she is also very interested in local creativity and public service design!