The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Education > People



Connecting a campus’ history to the future –
assembling 50 years of records and memories.

Shuntaro Sakurada

In November 2011, second year School of Culture, Media and Society student Shuntaro Sakurada made an appeal to Waseda Students via Twitter. “A construction fence will be erected on Buncam (Waseda University Toyama Campus). I’m planning on holding a participatory performance there so we can experience the beauty of the space now while there is little fencing.” Sakurada made the tweet after receiving notification from the university that a construction fence would be erected ten days later as the planned reconstruction of a portion of the school buildings in the Toyama Campus began in earnest. Looking back on the tweet that was the start of his activities, Sakurada stated “Once construction started, the fence wouldn’t be removed until five years later. In other words, we wouldn’t be able to see the true Buncam for the rest of our time at Waseda. While collecting recollections from a number of people about how Buncam looked before the construction, I sought to notify everyone about the installation of the fence.”

The Fence – Goodbye to the Courtyard participatory performance. Participants used their bodies to represent a construction fence prior to its installation.

However, although Sakurada planned to hold a performance, he had just six days in which to arrange everything and execute it. Ordinarily this would be difficult to achieve in such a short period of time. Sakurada’s call to action, however, spread via Twitter and word of mouth. The day of the event, about 30 Toyama Campus students gathered for the event. In time with live music, the performers slowly circled the central courtyard while holding a 30 meter long bolt of white cloth. They represented the fence to be erected four days later with a “human fence.” “We didn’t have any time, so we just ran through it in a daze. I’m glad we were able to get the university’s cooperation. Quite a large crowd gathered and we achieved more than I expected we would.” The event served to solidify his decision to preserve records and memories of Toyama Campus’ changing appearance. Built in 1962, the Toyama Campus was designed by the late architect Togo Murano, a Waseda alumnus, recipient of the Order of Culture, and representative of modern Japan. The campus has watched over Waseda students for over half a century. “I’ve always been interested in the memories associated with buildings. No matter how familiar a building is to us, once it is replaced with another, it is quickly overwritten in our minds by a new memory. But looking at pictures of the past, the memories of the old building come flooding back. That is what made me feel like we had to collect records and memories about Buncam. If we didn’t do it, I’m sure it would be forgotten.”

It was this desire that lead Sakurada to the idea of the Buncam Archive website, which introduces the history of the Toyama Campus. Centering on Sakurada, Waseda students with experience in web design and writing linked up to assemble a select team. After several updates, they settled on the site’s current design. The website contains interviews with famous people who went to school on the Toyama Campus, pictures of old school buildings, and episodes in the history of Buncam to entice and entertain readers. Talking of the outlook for the future, Sakurada states, “Going forward, I’d like to add more materials to the archive and make them readily available.”

As reconstruction continues on the Toyama Campus, we can be thankful that we can always revisit those records and memories.

Buncam Archive (http://buncam.org), a website assembling photographs and images of the Toyama Campus (nicknamed Buncam).

Panoramic view of Toyama Campus school building. The intensity is overwhelming.

Toyama Art Exhibition held as part of Wasedasai 2012.


Shuntaro Sakurada
(Fifth Year, School of Culture, Media and Society)

Originally from Akita Prefecture, Shuntaro Sakurada graduated from Akita High School. He is a representative of the Society to Preserve Buncam Records and Memories. In addition to managing their website, the Buncam Archive, he also participates in the creation of e-books on Netpoyo (http://www.netpoyo.jp).