Parthenon Japan Company Ltd. has entered into a strategic partnership with Ogawa Town in Saitama Prefecture and opened Ogawa Studio, a satellite office, event space, and recording studio, in an abandoned school (former Uenodai Junior High School) located in Ogawa.
Ogawa, Saitama is about an hour away from Ikebukuro, Tokyo, and is a town full of nature known for being one of Japan’s foremost producers of washi, traditional Japanese paper. Part of a government grant-funded project, the former Uenodai Junior High School was reopened as a co-working office building in June 2023. The building added a shared kitchen/cafe area in July, and a shop selling local produce and goods in August, revitalizing the school that had been vacant for over a decade due to local depopulation.
This is a world first for a PR firm to open an office in an abandoned school.
On Friday, August 11, an opening event for the entire Machi no Campus Uechu Complex was hosted by the building’s management company, Oidenasee Inc. The event saw over 800 visitors coming even amidst Japan’s intense summer heat. At the event, visitors were welcomed to tour the facilities, learn the results of a utilization survey conducted by a research team at Rikkyo University, visit the offices of building tenants, and enjoy local food, drink, and fun activities for kids.
The opening event hosted at Parthenon Japan’s Ogawa Studio on the same day was attended by over 100 Ogawa residents, including Mayor Yasuhiro Shimada, as well as colleagues of Parthenon Japan, who enjoyed music, refreshments, and a lively discussion about the future of this exciting new complex.
Parker J. Allen, President and Representative Director of Parthenon Japan, stated upon the occasion of opening Ogawa Studio,
“Parthenon Japan is honored to work with Ogawa Town and the local community to help reduce depopulation in the area. There are two reasons why we decided to open this office in Ogawa, Saitama Prefecture, utilizing the former library and announcement room of an abandoned school that had been vacant for 10 years due to depopulation.
First, we wanted to provide our team with a new option for working outside of Tokyo, in a place where we can enjoy experiences that are not available in Tokyo.
Second, we wanted to position ourselves as being directly involved in the field of regional revitalization, which is a serious issue facing Japan. As the world’s first PR firm to have an office in an abandoned school, we look forward to showing our clients and the business community the potential that is overlooked in rural areas just beyond Tokyo.
We are pleased to have been able to create an environment where people can enjoy their work life and have a workation, while enjoying Ogawa’s nature, listening to music from our collection of over 100 records, mainly Japanese city pop and jazz, or watching movies via streaming services.
We would like to thank Ogawa Town and building management company Oidenasee Inc. for their partnership.”
In opening the new satellite office, Parthenon Japan’s employees pitched in and outfitted the office space with their own hands, from bringing in furniture and fixtures to building tables and laying out the room. All of the tables are made from solid Japanese cedar boards. The focal point of the room, a high table featuring two vintage record players, is made of a single piece of cedar from Saitama Prefecture, and the legs were made from the main pillars of a vacant house that was dismantled. All of the woodworking was done personally by the CEO, a DIY enthusiast and amateur carpenter.
The chairs and sofas were all purchased second hand, and all shelving and audio equipment are repurposed items from the school, to maximize sustainability and avoid discarding usable items.
Looking forward, Parthenon Japan is honored to have a work space where employees can work comfortably in a spontaneous environment full of nature, and the Ogawa Studio is destined to become a new place for fruitful interactions with people outside the company.
Parthenon Japan is also planning activities aimed at revitalizing Ogawa Town, such as renting the space to local residents and holding seminars on the use of vacant houses within the town.
Parthenon Japan Ogawa Studio Location
Uechu Bldg. 2F, 2-22 Higashi-Ogawa, Ogawamachi, Saitama, Japan 355-0322