Adding new value to the city ── NOMURA planners envision creating a "city of the future" with commercial facilities as the starting point

Chihiro Watari has been interested in town planning since her student days. After joining the company in 2007 and gaining experience in development sales and leasing, I now work as a planner working on mixed-use developments and commercial facilities. This is a dream-filled job that involves carefully communicating with the people involved while drawing up the city of the future. We will unravel Watara's career and thoughts.


Responsible for many large-scale projects. The important thing is “accumulation of small decisions”

Watari is a member of the Planning Department 2 of the Creative Headquarters Planning Center. As a general manager, I manage a team of about 20 people while at the same time being active in the field. The Planning Department 2 is in charge of multi-disciplinary planning, including mixed-use development, commercial facilities, sports entertainment, public facilities through public-private collaboration, and regional revitalization. Every day, we deal with everything from creating spaces to creating systems in all fields.

While being active in the field as a player, I spend my days as a general manager deciding which members to assign to which projects and following up on the work carried out by the members. What I value in my work is to value "small decisions."

Watari: “The projects that my department handles tend to be large-scale developments.The larger the project, the longer it will take to complete it.There are also projects with a long future that will be completed after 2030. We have a lot.

There are times when we feel impatience and frustration, such as when what we've done doesn't materialize right away, or when we can't follow through to the end for various reasons, but no matter how big a job is, it's an accumulation of small decisions. I am conscious of carefully accumulating each consideration and decision.”

Small steps add up and lead to great work.

Watanai: ``What our company's work has in common is that there is no one correct answer.Even for the same issue or purpose, there are countless approaches, methods, and proposal patterns.Through dialogue with customers, we This is a collaborative effort in which the entire team works together to find the optimal solution.

It's tough because I have to keep coming up with new, custom-made ideas for every project. But that's also an interesting point. It's interesting and rewarding to feel like we're gradually getting closer to the optimal solution as we all exchange opinions.''


During my university days, I witnessed the revitalization of the city. I felt there was potential in town planning work.


Majored in urban planning at university and graduate school. In a research lab focused on regional revitalization, we were thinking about approaches to revitalizing the city.

Watari: ``There is an unforgettable sight that I witnessed in the city where I frequented the city for research activities.One day, a cafe opened in a corner of a cluttered city with small and medium-sized office buildings in the city center.The owner of the shop... Due to his personality and open, sophisticated atmosphere, a new community was born around the cafe, and new shops opened in the surrounding area, gradually revitalizing the town.

It was a transitional period when the number of residents increased due to the development of condominiums in the surrounding area, and the city was changing from a place to work to a place to live. I later learned that the store was made possible because of the building owner's strong desire to turn the first floor of the building, which used to be a warehouse, into a place where everyone in town could gather. It was an event where I was moved by my feelings for my city, and at the same time realized the power that a store has. I started to feel strongly that I wanted to do a job that would bring about positive change in the city.”

I wanted to become a planner involved in urban development. With this hope in mind, I started job hunting and found NOMURA

Tokai: "What particularly impressed me about my interview at NOMURA was the openness of the place. Everyone was natural, even the executives were not pretentious at all, and everyone was very relaxed and easygoing, regardless of their position, which was appealing. I also remember that during the alumni visit, I was shown in detail the work of the seniors.

Based on various planning documents, they carefully explained the whole story to me: how they interpreted the characteristics of the area, what elements the town needed, and what usage scenarios they envisioned when planning and concept design. I felt that this was the job I wanted to do."

After joining the company, I was involved in projects in the sales development department for two years.

Watanai: “My first job was to work on the basic concept of Tokyo Solamachi, a commercial facility located at the base of the Tokyo Sky Tree.As I was a new employee, I couldn’t do much, but I was there to help everyone work. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm.Every day, all the people involved inside and outside the company gathered for regular meetings.The sales senior who was at the center of these meetings was like the conductor of an orchestra.

Planners and designers act in response to a bird's-eye view of the situation, identify issues, and proactively determine what measures should be taken. It was an experience that left a strong impression on me that this is what it means to work as a team."

After working in sales for two years, he moved to the tenant leasing department in 2009.

Watanai: “Tenant leasing is a job where we work together with developers to develop strategies for attracting customers and profits that are suitable for each commercial facility, and to attract the most suitable tenants to realize that strategy.Without the support of tenants, commercial facilities cannot survive. This is not possible.We will hold careful conversations with each company and negotiate with them to attract them.

In the leasing department, it was common for even young employees to attend business negotiations alone. The people I worked with were the company president, the person in charge of store development, and other people who had a wealth of experience and knowledge that was incomparable to what I had at the time. Naturally, I was a little scared at first, but I gradually grew to love the time it took to communicate my thoughts and strategies in my own words, hear from the other person about the brand's concept and future prospects, and have a thorough dialogue. I made a lot of mistakes, but it was a period where I learned a lot and gained courage."


Participated in an area redevelopment project in the city center. We made adjustments while looking at the entire business.

After taking childcare and maternity leave, transferred to the planning department in 2018. We have been involved in projects related to commercial facilities and area revitalization in various areas, including central Tokyo and regional cities. The big project I've been working on recently is the redevelopment of a certain area in the center of Tokyo.

Watanai: “This is an area where large-scale redevelopment will continue around the station over the next four to five years. Several high-rise buildings are being planned that will combine all kinds of urban functions such as commercial, office, hall, and hotel facilities. I am involved in the basic concept of low-rise liveliness zones for several of these projects.

We were also involved in creating a commercial master plan, not only determining what each individual development should be, but also how each development would divide up its roles and revitalize the area as a whole. We gathered people from the relevant departments in charge of each project and had a lively discussion with about 20 people. It was quite difficult at first because there were so many different people pointing in different directions."

Watanai says he found it very rewarding to see people who were initially separated come together.

Watanai: ``This is a long development project, so our policy may change in the future.However, we will verbalize the vision we have now and move forward with it.We will make adjustments as we go along.We are glad that we were able to create a foundation that will encourage such a move. I felt a positive response.”


How can we make the most of our “infinite artistic style”? Focus on planner assignment work

Every day I was involved in urban development planning, something I had dreamed of as a student. There are many difficult cases, but we will continue to face them seriously.

Watanai: “Commercial facilities are for-profit businesses, but I believe they are also very public businesses in the sense that they create a place for everyone in the city.For example, we approach social issues such as loneliness, and raise children in the community. I would like to create a facility that fulfills the role required as the center of the region, such as co-parenting through mutual care and initiatives that make use of the region's unique charm and assets."

We will continue to move forward while encouraging our members.

Watanai: ``At our company, we have employees with various characters and various artistic styles.We have 600 creators, so if two of us come together, we'll produce 360,000 different styles of output, and if we get three of us together, we'll produce 200 million different kinds of output.In-house, It is described as ``infinite art style''.

That's why it's so important to decide what kind of work and what type of team members you'll tackle. I hope I can act like a talented manager at a talent agency to find matches that will yield better results."

We aim to further upgrade not only our department, but the entire company.

Tokai: "These days, there are a lot more planners who work while raising children, but when I returned to work after childcare leave, I was the only working mother in the department. That's why I've always wanted to work in a way that would make my juniors, who may eventually have children, think, 'I could do that too.' Not to try too hard, nor to hold back in a weird way, but to be able to work hard and be active in the normal way. There is still a lot that can be done to support this. I would like to try to improve the environment, such as by making work more efficient and systematizing it.

Also, from a business perspective, I would like to come up with ways to sell planning at a higher price. I feel that there are many operations where the cost performance is too good compared to the quantity and quality of the output. I want people to properly understand the value and significance of NOMURA 's planning, and I want this to lead to recognition from society. I hope to raise the status of planners even higher."

My job is to create cities with rich ideas and thinking skills. We will continue to bring about an exciting future by involving many people.


*The contents are as of December 2023.


Chihiro Watai

After studying architecture and urban development at university and graduate school, he joined NOMURA in 2007. Since then, he has been involved in planning and leasing of commercial and customer-attracting facilities. In recent years, he has been involved in many projects from the upstream stages of development, including large-scale mixed-use commercial developments in urban areas and the formulation of commercial master plans.

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