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Tokyo MICE Symposium 2023: Next-Generation Business Events Utilizing Advanced Technology

On February 13, Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) and Tokyo Convention & Visitor's Bureau (TCVB) organized Tokyo MICE Symposium 2023. This significant assembly aimed to widely disseminate Tokyo's efforts to shift towards digital transformation
in business events and bring business events to international standards, as well as to introduce the "TOKYO MICE Technology Introduction Guidelines" that clearly states how to utilize new technologies to bring business events to the next level.

Two keynote speeches were presented to the participants in the first part of the MICE Symposium. Prof. Shuichi Inada of Waseda University Research Innovation Center delivered "The Challenges in the realization of Next-Generation MICE," where he covered
"The Tokyo Model" and the technologies to achieve it. The "Tokyo Model," where next-generation MICE is disseminated by focusing on technologies and showing how to utilize them, leads to greater efficiency in MICE held in Tokyo. At the same time, it creates new values, addressing the social issues of aging and the shrinking of the working-age population in Japan. It also promotes Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), and sustainability, areas Tokyo continues to promote tirelessly. The other keynote, titled "Exploring the Future of Tokyo as a MICE City through the Use of Cutting-edge Technology," was delivered by Prof. Kouta Minamizawa of Keio University Graduate School of Media Design.

In the second part of the MICE Symposium, Prof. Yuji Yamaguchi of J.F Oberlin University College of Business Management joined the keynote speakers in a panel discussion to cover "Tama Area and Next-generation MICE," marking the high potential for next-generation business events in the area.   

The Symposium successfully attracted approx. 200 in-person and online participants representing hotels, travel agencies, convention facilities, DMOs, and meeting planners as well as those from the local community, raising awareness among Tokyo residents of the significant benefits of attracting and hosting business events for the destination.

As a part of an industry and academia collaboration effort, the Symposium was also streamed by a team of Tokyo University of Technology students led by Professor of the Media Science Department Hideki Yoshioka.

Tokyo MICE Symposium was held in Tokyo's Tama Area, which includes the towns of Hachioji and Tachikawa and is located in the southwest of the city. Visitors can experience here a more tranquil Tokyo, away from the bustle of the metropolis. Opened last October, the brand-new venue, Tokyo Metropolitan Tama Business Activation Center (Tokyo Tama Mirai Messe), conveniently located within
a 5-minute walk from Hachioji station, impressed participants with its warm design combining wooden elements made of local timber. Especially notable is the shape of the 2,400sqm. exhibition area's ceiling. It resemblesTama Ori (Tama woven fabric), carefully preserving the history of Hachioji, once known as "the city of mulberry," which flourished as a major center of sericulture, silk making, and fabric production.

In conjunction with the MICE Symposium, Hachioji and Tachikawa exhibited PR booths to introduce the charms of the Tama region's culture and attractions.

During the break between presentations, Hachioji delivered an impressive traditional Japanese puppet performance featuring performers moving around the stage and making puppet dance to music. This art form is designated as an Intangible Cultural Asset by the government of Japan and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and is one of the important cultural assets of Hachioji Heritage.

Hachioji Visitors & Convention Association also had various booths exhibiting the activities they can offer for business events. Highlights included a hands-on Tama dyeing experience participants could try for themselves and demonstrations of Tama-Ori weaving, a traditional woven fabric. These are two of the numerous handcrafts native to the Hachioji area and the perfect addition to any event itinerary.

Via fantastic VR experience, Tachikawa Tourism & Convention Bureau introduced the area's convention facilities and excursions samples, including a segway tour in Showa Memorial Park, a Tama river cleanup SGDs activity, an excursion to the local brewery and to Takeuchi Farm to learn about the superfood fed to cattle and how they are raised in a clean, stress-free environment. This is the only farm in Tokyo producing Premium Kuroge Wagyu Beef.

After the Symposium, participants could join showcases of excursions and unique venues at either Tachikawa or Hachioji to learn what experiences are available for business events.

Tachikawa is an area deeply involved with sports and eager to encourage participants to use sports content in future MICE events. This time Tachikawa showcased a Fencing Reception at Dome Tachikawa Tachihi, which accommodates 1,000 people for private events.

Welcome drinks includedTachihi Dunkel and Tachihi Weizen beers produced by a brewery located near the venue. The food, delivered by a food truck and catered by local suppliers, included a great variety of hot dumplings perfect for the winter season.

One highlight was round Japanese dumplings called "dango" served with a locally produced soy-based delicious sauce.

The main attraction at the reception was a fencing performance/experience consisting of two parts. In the first part, Koji Emura, a fencer who competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, explained the rules and score calculations in a simple presentation. Four fencers, including Inochi Ito, the bronze medal winner at the Tbilisi (Georgia) World Cup 2022, assisted Emura in the rule demonstration and performed exciting matches after for the entertainment of participants.

During the break, participants could learn about the three types of weapons used in Olympic fencing: foil, epee, and saber, and actually hold them at the exhibited area.
The participants also had the opportunity to network with fencers and ask about training processes and competitions.

Most thrilling was the second part when six participant representatives experienced fencing. Divided into two groups, they first practiced the basic moves and used them after in team matches. Participating and watching matches supporting your team was mutually exciting and entertaining and is highly recommended as a team-building activity. After awarding the winning team, the commemorative photo and a greeting from the event host were the perfect closings of the program.  

Hachioji is an area in the Tama region of Tokyo where one can get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and experience beautiful nature and tranquil temples. The Hachioji excursion, delivered by the Hachioji Visitors & Convention Association, brought participants to the majestic Mount Takao, the most climbed mountain in the world.

Mount Takao conveniently has a cable car, which participants rode halfway up
the mountain before enjoying a relaxing stroll to the sacred Takao-san Yakuoin,
a stunning Buddhist temple. Here participants gathered for a Buddhist ceremony to pray for prosperity. As everyone waited in apt anticipation, the sound of a conch echoed from deep within the temple, signaling the beginning of the unforgettable experience, featuring conch playing, chanting, chimes, and a large fire prepared
by monks just a mere few meters from the participants. Following this awe-inspiring performance, participants lined up so they could all individually pray to the temple giving a personal touch to this immersive cultural experience.

This was followed by a traditional Hachioji Geisha performance for a more light-hearted activity. The head Geisha introduced their instruments, such as the shamisen and drums, known as "ko-tsuzumi" before five geisha demonstrated their skills in song and dance. The most exciting part was when the head geisha explained how to manipulate the ropes of the "ko-tsuzumi" to achieve different sounds before inviting guests onto the stage to take part in the performance for themselves.

To wrap up this exciting excursion, the event headed to a nearby hotel called Takaone for a reception with food and drinks. There were outdoor BBQs and a buffet, and everyone socialized next to campfires, contributing to the cozy atmosphere.

The hospitality of Hachioji Visitors & Convention Association even extended to a gift for each attendee, including a personalized "Gomafuda" lucky charm with their name for luck and other items.   

Business Events Tokyo will continue regularly introduce Tokyo initiatives to business events planners.