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The heat wave with outdoor temperature of 41°Celsius (105.8° Fahrenheit) did not deter fans from all over Japan to descend upon a tiny town Wajiki with a population of 9,000. “Exciting Summer in Wajiki '13” outdoor rock concert took place on August 13th, a day after Otsuka Ren performed at the annual Awa Dance Festival in Tokushima.
Otsuka employees together with local community members get together every year to organize the outdoor concert at the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Tokushima Wajiki Factory. This year is the 24th annual summer concert and was sponsored in conjunction with the local municipal offices.
Music fans from near and far flocked to the lush rolling green hills of the Tokushima Wajiki Factory to see performances by popular Japanese artists that included Tatsuya Ishii, Beni, Rake, SKY-HI and Negoto.
Despite the scorching hot summer weather, the younger fans were screaming and jumping up and down when the artists got on the stage and everyone waved their hands in the air when their favorite songs were performed.
Organized in partnership with local businesses with the goal of revitalizing and contributing to community development, Exciting Summer in Wajiki was first held at the Tokushima Wajiki Factory in 1990. Featuring promising young artists, the mid-summer outdoor concert, timed to coincide with the famed Tokushima Prefecture Awa Dance festival, has become a popular annual tradition. Over the years, Exciting Summer in Wajiki has grown to become one of Shikoku's largest outdoor musical events. This year, about 200 Otsuka Pharmaceutical employees volunteered to help at the concert that made it a success.
The factory production line was also opened to the public, and 700 visitors had come to see the production of Calorie Mate, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The Tokushima Wajiki Factory was built in 1989 under the direction of Chairman Akihiko Otsuka as a factory park to bring work to a hilltop town. The dry climate in the high altitude was chosen to produce Calorie Mate which was then trucked for two hours to the nearest ports for shipping. The intention to revitalize Wajiki progressed with the building of an outdoor stage surrounded by greenery and a large, open space accented with artwork.
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Every year in August, Otsuka Group’s researchers, marketers, engineers and even Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s president himself, come together to perform in Japan’s largest dance festival. The colorful, 400-year old traditional Awa Dance performance brought well over 1.23 million spectators from all over Japan and overseas to the tiny Tokushima town of 700,000 population.
August 12th was a hot and muggy day with the mercury hitting 37.3 Celsius (99.14 Fahrenheit), but that did not dampen the excitement among the dancers in Otsuka Ren.
Otsuka’s participation started in 1988 with the formation of the Otsuka Ren by scientists, sales representatives, quality control service staff, etc, from plants and research centers in Tokushima Prefecture, a little less than an hour’s flight southwest from Tokyo. Now, employees working in Tokyo and Osaka offices are able participate in the dance as well.
About 100 employees that form the Otsuka Ren receive grueling training and must pass the annual audition to perform at the Awa Dance Festival. They practice at various locations after work which also helps build strong bonds among staff that normally don’t get the opportunity to socialize with fellow employees from other fields.
This year, 20 new members were admitted to Otsuka Ren, among them was Rosa Yum, an expatriate from the US. The former broadcast journalist recently joined Otsuka Pharmaceutical and was extremely excited and grateful to be able to participate in the festival because such an opportunity is extremely rare. And the companies participating in the festival must have the vision and leadership to bring together people from different backgrounds and experiences to make the Awa Dance a success.