Shigeru AoiRepresentative Director of A-TOM Co. Ltd.

The value of the arena lies in that it arouses emotions from the root with all kinds of people gathered together to share many aspects of emotions together.

As I write this report, the Rugby World Cup is proceeding to the final stages in Japan. Unfortunately, the Japanese team has ended its challenge amidst the fever of its supporters, but the breath-taking matches are still freshly engraved in our hearts.

I have been to the Rugby World Cup Stadium four times in a row to cheer for our team; however, never have I experienced such fever! About 70,000 supporters prayed as they watched Japan’s game against Scotland in the Yokohama International Stadium. The stadium was filled with so much heat, almost to the extent of craziness, and in the middle of such air, I could not but wish to build my own arena in the future.

My dream is to build an arena in Toyama, where my late grandfather was born, and where my root is. I wish to build an arena that we can be proud of in the world.

I have visited many countries, and often, have stopped by arenas and stadiums. In every city, each arena or stadium is a symbol of pride and culture. I have witnessed that the local people were very proud of their arenas or stadiums, and enthusiastically supported their local team. Compared to the European countries and the United States, Japan has a relatively short history of sports. However, we are currently experiencing change in the field of sport business in Japan.

In the past, major companies have been the owners of professional sport teams. Nowadays, various companies including IT and game industries are becoming to be owners as well. Coaching technology is increasing its development, and the athletes’ techniques and skills are improving outstandingly compared to the past. Together with this, with evolution of the latest technology such as the free viewpoint videos, we are able to enjoy games with increasing powerful imminence. With further evolution of wearable devices, by only wearing special glasses, we would be able to have a virtual experience of being on the field, sensing sound, air, and perhaps even dampness. We would be able not only to ‘watch’ a game, but also to ‘feel’ and ‘imagine’ the game.

This said, I believe that our human cravings for wanting to ‘be strongly moved or touched in the heart’ from a live match would not be diminished no matter the increasing degree of development in technology. It is often said that with development of electronic devices such as personal computers and smart-phones, people’s physical activities have become rather inactive. Is this true? I think that the more IT evolves, the more people increase their awareness for their physical activities. I think that the more technology develops, the more people’s cravings become simple. Wouldn’t people simply wish stronger for something that would arouse their five senses and enable them to be strongly moved or touched in their hearts?

This is especially perceived in the music industry. The entertainment business, with their live shows and festivals, is improving its performance since year 2000. Whereas CD production is drastically declining, streaming industry is showing rapid growth, and we can listen to music from such media in our daily lives. Why do people pay money to go out to listen to live music and try to listen to music amidst a massive crowd? Wouldn’t that be because people naturally want to share feelings for what they were moved or touched by with many others? In fact, the spread of SNS has played a major role for making live performances and festivals popular. In this way, a simple music event has turned into a place for communication through music.

This can be said with sports as well. I don’t think even if one were able to dominate an arena or stadium all to oneself and enjoy watching the best techniques and skills of the top athletes, that would not enable one to be ‘moved or touched in the heart’ that much. In such a situation, as in the match against Scotland the other day, one would not feel like screaming out or raising his/her hands passionately, or cheer until one loses his/her voice. One might say in a refrained tone, “Wow, that was great”, but probably, that would be it. In the heated stadium of the Scotland game, there were millions of fellow supporters sharing the same passion at the same time in the same space. Even if we didn’t know each other’s name or face, or were just ‘friends’ on the spot, we were certainly sharing the same feelings and were deeply connected for that reason. Such sharing of feelings is the essence of watching a live match or performance, and we as humans have natural desire for wanting that excitement and compassion.

Originally, sports were a metaphor for wars. The structure of the two is similar in that there is fever amidst the ‘fighting’ and the strong will to win as a result. In this context, some even claim, “sports replace wars” especially in major sport events such as the Olympics or the World Cup games. Extreme as it may sound, one may sympathize to some extent that humans indeed, have inherent aggressiveness. Through watching sport players, one may witness this element. When I watch players passionately play and perform super-human techniques and skills with the same human body as we have, I always imagine how much rigorous work and strong discipline are involved. Every time I witness a great challenge of these players, and how they ‘fight’ for their goals, I always question myself, “Are you ok as you are now?” with some kind of resentment. My inquiry continues, asking myself, “Are you trying your very best?”, “Are you not running away from any challenges?”, or “Aren’t you feeling relaxed in your comfort zone?” I feel pricked in my heart as these questions rise, and passionately raise my hand and cheer the players with full power and heart.

In such circumstances, there is no room for technology, and all I am doing is putting my five senses together, activating them to absorb all the power there is through every movement I feel from the players. Millions of feelings crash against another and increase expansion. The whole stadium is filled with such passionate air. I feel ‘strongly touched and moved in the heart’ in such moments. Such feeling is probably what we are all born with, and whether we have a rich and fulfilling life depends on how much one experiences such feelings. This is just like how soil in an agricultural land becomes rich and fertile from being dug and buried again and again.

The image of my arena, “Toyama Arena” would be a place where all kinds of people gather as one. Even if an arena is fully equipped with the latest technology and its facilities, grand, unless there is no fulfillment of the human heart of connecting with the others, there is no value in the arena. An arena is a place where people share their diverse feelings, laugh together, and cry together. Millions of supporters feel the heat of the challengers and share a common feeling instantly. This creates a shared experience. Sharing of a common experience is something that Japan perhaps requires the most. I wish to send out rich culture from the Toyama Arena.