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Four students starting a business in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Creating a way of life through "toiz" Inc.

Kei Maejima

The headline of a national paper said, "Students move to Izu, and start a business." It was about "toiz" Inc. started up by university students in Tokyo, targeting invigorating the community. For one of the students, Kei Maejima, it was a way of life he finally found after a search of himself.

In elementary school in Kumamoto, he was a truant. Kei who says that he has little memory about school where he didn't study much entered an integrated junior and senior high school with the educational ideal of "not letting children grow under the principle of competition." The school culture even without regular tests gave him a comfortable place to be, but he couldn't face study that he kept on turning his back on.

Students from Tokyo get together in Izu and have a study session

"I just assumed I was poor at studying," Kei recalls. "When I graduated from high school, I decided then it was time to change." Once he made up his mind, Kei started studying the elementary school curriculum from scratch and gained enough learning to enter university after two years. He finally became a WASEDA student but was not satisfied. "Music, movies, internships or whatever I develop an interest in, I devote myself to it. In my life, I think I was desperately looking for what I should do." Just before he became a 3rd year student, he met Kensuke Sakurada who would later give him a chance to start a business.

Mr. Sakurada, a managing director of an IT company, was planning and hosting a business contest, "Izucon," with a theme of invigorating Izu City. Kei participated in the contest as part of the audience. The winner Takumi Shiomi (then 2nd year, School of Political Science and Economics), another WASEDA student had a plan to start up a student organization to vitalize the community. At the reception following the event, Takumi and Kei had a conversation for the first time and decided to start a club authorized by Izu City, "Sizu," with their friends. "To liven up Izu, we invited students to local festivals, held seminars and I devoted myself to the activity. But one year later, I had some doubts, "Is this really right?" I started to feel that as long as I stayed in Tokyo and worked in the framework of 'the vitalization part and the vitalized,' I wouldn't be able to reach a real solution." Supported by Mr. Sakurada, four Sizu members including Kei and Takumi started the community-based company, toiz, Inc. and started to live together in a guest house/shared house in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Currently, based in Izu, toiz operates by planning and operating tours and management of the guesthouse as its main line of business. "From our viewpoint, the invigorated condition of a community means those who leave it can return. They go to bigger cities and don't return to their hometowns because in addition to life infrastructure issues such as "no jobs available," there is a sense that "rural areas are tough to live in." He hopes the way of life of toiz members will become a model, be extended to different regions, and invigorate Japan as a whole. "I want to destroy such values through my way of life and make Japan a place where more people can have pride in their way of life."

The business card I received comes with a line, "Making a way of life." These words represented the answer to his question about the ideal way of life he searched for.

Crops produced in the garden of the shared house. They can be eaten uncooked

The members of toiz enjoying some fishing in Izu. The catch will be prepared for dinner. Kei is second from the rear

Having a meeting in a relaxed manner, while taking a footbath near Shuzenji. Kei is third from right


Kei Maejima

Born in Kumamoto Prefecture. Graduated from Jiyunomori Gakuen High School. 4th Year, School of Human Sciences. His hobby is cooking. "I make dishes with local ingredients from Izu that I receive from people in the community." He currently commutes to university from Izu and is striving to enter Graduate School to make management of his business and study compatible. "I'll take you to nice quiets places, so please come and enjoy Izu!"