A Story of “World in …”

WIT stands for World in Tohoku, which originated in March 2014. Our original name was WiA (World in Asia) when it was established in 2011. In fact, we are currently in the process of changing our name again. This is a short story of why we decided to go with “World in …” for our organization.

WiA was born in a cottage in the early summer sunlight of Karuizawa in Nagano, Japan, when three of our co-founders – Hideyuki Inoue, Tetsuo Kato and Tomonori Tsuchida, were having a conversation.

Here are words from Hideyuki, reflecting back on the birth of WiA. (Excerpts from his message for WiA forum in 2012.)

“A world already exists in each and every one of us.
A world is not somewhere far away, but is in this town of Tokyo, and in your hometown. A world exists in Asia, in your country, in your place, in your region, right at your foot on the ground.

If we see these worlds with our eyes and hearts, and connect with our authentic being, then we will be able to nurture our compassion for others and connect with them deeply.

So we thought to ourselves, let’s hold onto these beliefs and as the initial step, let’s start with World in Asia. It could also be World in Osaka, Bangkok, or even World in Inoue.

We want to vocalize that we have the world in our hands, that what we value is right at our feet, and that we are all interconnected. With such cry, this story started.

“I wish for WIA to become a social innovation platform that keeps evolving. I want to see a world where everyone’s aspirations are shooting towards each of their individual North Stars. I strive to nurture the worlds that co-exist in this universe, and connect the worlds together. “

There are three Worlds that extend in the name of “World in …”

20170409_WiAThe first world is a world that already exists, rich and deep down at our own feet and source. It tells us to keep exploring this world, say, a world in Asia, a world in Tohoku, or perhaps, a world in me. A disaster-stricken area, for instance, is not only a devastating and damaged area; rather it holds so much potential to shape a new future.

The second world is one that enriches our perspectives , especially as we invite diversity from the external world.

The picture on the right, which I drew in the early days of WiA, illustrates my unchanged worldview even after we changed our organization name.

That is, WIT (formerly WiA) catalyzes wisdoms and resources of people globally to contribute to the work of social entrepreneurs who are aiming to create innovative and sustainable societies with citizens.

In other words, the two worlds mentioned above are:

1.   Exploring the Worldness inside of oneself; seeking the unseen potential of each individual

2.   Enrich one’s world through encounters of diverse external worlds.

When people who are pursuing these two processes finally meet, the third world opens its door.

3.   As diverse and inner worlds of one self and others encounter, the whole system extends, and possibilities for a better future emerge.

This is the Presensing moment in Theory U by Otto Scharmer, whose class was my most favorite at MIT Sloan School of Management.

20170409_WorldinFor instance, Wataru Kainuma, WIT Entrepreneur and CEO of Urushi Rocks Inc., expanded his mission of creating a sustainable society through Urushiware (traditional Japanese lacquerware) from a mere Japanese market into an overseas market. This was made possible by meeting participants of WIT Cross-Border Learning Journey, some of whom came from the US.

Steve Sakanashi, a Japanese-American born in Seattle, met Wataru at the Cross-Border Learning Journey, and created In the Heart of Aizu, a beautiful short film of Urushiware and artisans in the Aizu region of Fukushima, Japan. This was an opportunity for both Steve and Wataru to use their skills, experience, and networks to create not only a beautiful film on urushiware, but a new world of discovery. On a personal level, Steve was able to discover his ancestor roots in the Aizu region.

Deep within ourselves, we all have the power to shape our future.

Doors to this source will keep opening as you encounter your inner and outer worlds.

With a mission to co-create more stories of “World in…” with you, we have kept “World in…” in our names.


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