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Empower Japan! Project “Machi-Raku”

Rakuten Ichiba is based upon the idea of empowering individuals and society through the Internet. Under this concept, we are promoting “Empower Japan! Project ‘Machi-Raku’” in cooperation with local governments. Machi-Raku is designed to revitalize areas of Japan through Internet services. Although Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya remain bustling urban centers, depopulation is a serious problem for many regional areas of Japan. By sharing timely information on the appeal and attractions of these regions with residents, visitors, and other concerned parties, and through partnerships with local governments, we promote the idea of using the Internet for further regional development.

(Related link) Empower Japan! Project “Machi-Raku”

Sharing Information

In Japanese, machi means “town,” and raku means “comfort” or “pleasure.” As its name suggests, Project Machi-Raku highlights the comforts and pleasures of individual towns throughout Japan’s 47 prefectures. The website publishes information on the appeal and attractions of each area over the Internet, working to revitalize the regions. Machi-Raku began in April 2008 with the launch of “Machi-Raku: Hokkaido,” and has expanded ever since. The site is designed to appeal to local residents as well as visitors (and potential visitors), providing information on local specialty products available through Rakuten Ichiba and tourist and hotel information available through Rakuten Travel.

Additionally, the Maku-Raku website hosts pages created jointly with prefectural and municipal governments to carry the voices and experience of the people living in each region. These pages also include timely information from local governments and blogs by prefecture employees.

Machi-Raku content

Hokkaido prefectural office

Matsuyama city

Machi-Raku Okinawa

(Related link) Hokkaido prefectural office

(Related link) Matsuyama city

(Related link) Machi-Raku Okinawa

List of Local Governments’ Official Blogs
Hokkaido Hokkaido / Hokkaido, Obihiro / Hokkaido, Ebetsu
Tohoku Iwate / Miyagi / Yamagata / Fukushima
Kanto Saitama, Fukaya City / Ibaraki (mascot blog) / Ibaraki (“Cool Ibaraki”) / Gunma / Chiba, Minamibousou City
Chuubu Gifu, Oogaki City / Niigata, Tokamachi City / Fukui / Yamanashi / Yamanashi, Ootsuki City / Yamanashi, Nirasaki City / Yamanashi, Minobu Cho / Gifu / Gifu, Seki City /
Gifu, Shirakawa City / Gifu, Gifu City / Gifu, Tajimi City
Kinki Hyogo / Shiga / Shiga, Moriyama City / Shiga, Konan City / \Shiga, Nagahama City / Hyogo, Ono City / Hyogo, Kitaharima City / Wakayama, Arita City / Wakayama, Kainan City
Chuugoku Shikmane / Hiroshima, Kure City
Shikoku Ehime / Ehime, Matsuyama City / Kochi
Kyuushuu/Okinawa Kumamoto, Yamaga City / Saga, Ureshino City / Saga, Kanzaki-city / Nagawaki, Iki City / Nagasaki, Tsushima City / Nagasaki, Shinkamigoto City /
Kumamoto, Kumamoto City / Miyazaki / Okinawa, Kumejima
Fan Club Mail Magazines Offer Local Information Across Japan
Subscribed users receive regularly updated mail magazines specially designed for all 47prefectures that feature unique local attractions. Users can choose prefectures they are interested in and subscribe for as many mail magazines as they like.
We also provide a service to arrange for users who want more detailed information to receive publications of prefectural governments (*) for free.
* These publications may have limited distribution areas, and some prefectures do not have the delivery service for their publications.

Promotion of IT Utilization

As part of the project, we sponsor “Machi-Raku Workshops” twice a year. Inviting representatives of all prefectures, we present reports on our current projects at workshops, which also serve as an occasion to share successful experiences of IT utilization conducted jointly with local governments, and create opportunities for new initiatives.

Under partnership agreements with local governments, we are also working to reinforce joint online projects and further promote IT utilization at local governments.

Machi-Raku Workshop

Partnership Agreement

Programs for Internet Users

To cite a few examples of IT utilization to date, we sponsored online product fairs, for which we invited people who offer their products through the Internet, and organized online events tie-up with antenna shops.
We also offer a service to deposit “furusato nozei (hometown tax payment)” (*) through the settlement service offered by the Rakuten Group -- Rakuten Bank (online bank) and Rakuten Card -- making it possible for anyone to support designated local governments 24 hours a day.

Miyazaki Bussanten

Furusato nozei

* “Furusato nozei (hometown tax payment)”
“Furusato nozei” means donations you make to your hometowns or regions to which you have particular bonds or feelings of gratitude. You get tax credits for your resident tax and individual income tax payments in accordance with amounts of donations you make, thus effectively making part of your tax payments to your “furusato (hometown).” Since local governments you designate for “furusato nozei” do not have to be your actual hometown, you can freely which choose regions to support with your donations.

(Related link) Miyazaki Bussanten

(Related link) Furusato nozei

Proposals for Regional Business Operators to Utilize IT

We sponsor free seminars across Japan in cooperation with local governments to help regional business operators familiarize themselves with IT, and utilize it in their business operations. We present them with proposals to broaden marketing channels for their products into e-commerce. At one seminar, we drew as many as 530 participants.

We support shops to sell goods produced at vocational facilities for the physically challenged

Machi-Raku Yokohama

(Related link) Machi-Raku Yokohama

(Related link) Machi-Raku Gifu

We help to set up shops to sell goods produced at vocational facilities for the physically challenged in collaboration with local governments, and support the expansion of sales channels and wider recognition of their products within the “Machi-Raku Yokohama” and “Machi-Raku Gifu” websites.

Regional Activities

47 Machi-Raku Correspondents Promote Regional Communities
47 Rakuten employees, one for each of the 47 prefectures in Japan, volunteer their time to promote regional communities . Each correspondent resides in, hails from, or feels an emotional attachment to the prefecture they represent. Correspondents are responsible for gathering and transmitting information on his or her prefecture, promoting their regions by actively sharing information through online forums or social networks such as blogs and twitter.

Rakuten IT School Activities by Employee Volunteers
In order to help the future generation of innovators experience the pace and potential of the Internet, Rakuten employee volunteers and Rakuten Ichiba merchants visit schools across Japan to teach e-commerce classes approximately once a month. This unique partnership of Rakuten, local businesses, and students participate in a new kind of learning experience. Rakuten IT School classes, many of which are conducted in cooperation with local governments, are designed to provide students with rare opportunities to learn first-hand about the unique challenges of online shop owners, and to give them an understanding of important real-world concepts such as the difficulty of selling products and the value of working.
Rakuten IT School classes are modeled on courses taught by Rakuten University, an education program established to provide Rakuten Ichiba partners with expertise on e-commerce services. Classes provide an opportunity for employees and merchants to share the framework and know-how for successful e-commerce. Classes are practical and hands-on, covering a wide range of activities: workplace visits, developing e-commerce marketing strategies, creating a merchant’s home page, product conceptualization, and actual selling.

(Related link) Rakuten Machi-Raku Twitter

(Related link) Machi-Raku Correspondent Blog

(Related link) Rakuten IT School

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