In downtown Tokyo, the country’s oldest amusement park stands. Slightly worn around the edges, its rides are a little outdated and the paint wears thin on some parts. Crowds have thinned, of course, because everyone finds it more thrilling to be at Disneyland or Universal Studios. Couples and family visit for an affordable day out or a sense of nostalgia. But for two and a half weeks, Hanayashiki theme park saw throngs of housewives and young creative types swarm through its gates, and all for one reason: mt masking tape.
mt x Asakusa Hanayashiki (Image Source: iyamadesign inc.)
Roll upon roll of masking tape made from washi paper — by KAMOI KAKOSHI CO., LTD, a factory located in Kurashiki city, Japan — filled the baskets of visitors as they explore the park grounds covered top to toe in colourful flower patterned masking tape, specially designed for the event. Many visitors who might not have paid attention to this amusement park, eagerly absorbed its historical and cultural significance through the artful designs on each roll.
mt x Asakusa Hanayashiki (Image Source: masking-tape.jp)
Aside from their stellar artist and brand collaborations, this is where mt really goes on a roll. Under the social environment in which simplicity and nature are appreciated again, craft is no longer relegated as a second class citizen after art and design. The craft aspect of mt tapes were essential to creating a culture that appreciated, well, culture. By infusing a multitude of shades and textures in surprising ways, the humble masking tape are transformed into a vehicle for cultural expression and connection.
Image Source: PROP International CORP.
mt’s events — which include mt ex (large exhibitions around the world that show mt in action), mt school (workshop-focussed events), mt store (smaller-scale exhibitions in select cities), mt marche (market-style events) and mt factory (annual tours of their Kurashiki factory) — go beyond highlighting interesting places. The events are a platform to tell the story and character of each location.
mt ex Kawatana Onsen
Image Source: masking-tape.jp
For example, mt ex KAWATANA ONSEN brought a new, mt-seeking crowd to the quiet hotspring town of Kawatana. Held in the beautifully designed Cortot Hall, the event highlighted the town’s rich but sometimes overlooked history. While visitors might know of the town’s abundant nature (as depicted in the flower and leaves designs), the geometric shapes are a lovely reference to the Cortot Hall’s architecture. What really takes the cake is the music-themed tape, which hark back to Kawatana’s history with the pianist Alfred Cortot, who stayed in the town for three nights and was enamoured with the place.
Image Source: masking-tape.jp
The tapes produced for the mt store in Nagasawa, Kobe also reflect the prefecture’s history and culture. They feature old maps of Kobe Bay and symbols that recall Kobe’s history as a bustling port city. Tourists, both Japanese and international alike, can carry a bit of each city they visit wherever they go.
Likewise, the mt x Vitra event in Germany brought new customers to mt and mt to a new city.
mt x Vitra （Image Source: masking-tape.jp）
mt x Vitra event (Image Source: ©hubbuchmedia.ch)
There are times when mt’s roving events help in a deeper way. Their normal exhibitions and pop-up stores already drive new visitors to unexpected locations – but what about places need an emotional boost of support as well?
mt ex Sendai (Image Source: iyamadesign inc.)
As the first mt event in the Tohoku region, the event sought not only to inspire locals but to also invite people from other prefectures to the city.
mt ex Sendai (Source Image: iyamadesign inc.)
mt ex Awashima (Image Source: iyamadesign inc.)
With so much care and consideration placed into the shaping of each event as well as the requisite limited edition tapes, it’s easy to see why crowds flock to mt events no matter how far flung they are. From trains, to ferries to even breakwaters, mt has ventured far and wide to connect local culture and tourists, making travelling a fun and colourful event for crafters everywhere.
"Stick with Joy – The Masking Tape Creativity Fair"