As a ``fan'' of the company where I worked for 42 years, I continue to convey its history and charm both inside and outside the company.

Atsuko Ishikawa has worked as a librarian supporting the creativity of NOMURA, Ltd. She has made an effort to build an information database and create new value for NOMURA that is relatable to the world. She also works as a "storyteller" conveying the company's history, aiming to create fans of the company. In this interview, she talks about the values she has held toward her work, with an eye to the future, since joining the company.


From part-time worker to full-time employee. The appeal of working at a "company that doesn't feel like a company"

Ishikawa is a member of the Knowledge Support Room of the Human Resources and General Affairs Department at NOMURA, Ltd.'s Osaka office. He worked in the Information Materials Room for 42 years and retired in March 2023. He is now an external cooperation staff member, and continues to be responsible for accepting, reorganizing, and managing donated materials related to the Expo.

Ishikawa: "My encounter with NOMURA was by chance. At the time, I was a university student and was studying to become a librarian in a seminar. At that time, a friend from university approached me and said, 'There's a company looking for people who want to become librarians as part-timers. Would you like to give it a try?' That's how we met."

My job was to take the 7,000 to 8,000 books spread out on the floor and fill them into empty bookshelves.

Ishikawa: "I remember being surprised at the fact that the majority of the books were in the fields of architecture and concept design. There was a bias towards certain genres, and many of the books were written in foreign languages, so we were unable to categorize the books properly using the Nippon Decimal Classification used in public libraries. After consulting with the head of the department, we came up with our own classification system."

During the winter break, he received another part-time job offer. At that time, a female co-worker in his room asked him, "If you haven't found a job yet, why don't you come to NOMURA?" This was what led to Ishikawa's employment.

Ishikawa: "I was attracted by the company's atmosphere and the personalities of the employees, so I decided to join the company. However, at the time I knew almost nothing about NOMURA, Ltd. I had experienced the 1970 World Expo (Osaka Expo) when I was 12 years old, and had been deeply moved by it, but I never imagined that NOMURA had been in charge of the pavilion displays there... I had no knowledge whatsoever of the company's work, such as interiors concept design or other aspects."

However, even though he didn't have a deep understanding of the work, he felt a vague attraction to NOMURA

Ishikawa: "Looking back, NOMURA at the time was, in a good way, a 'company that didn't really seem like a company.' People there had an air about them that made it hard to believe they were company employees, and they worked with such enthusiasm that I was shocked to discover that such a world existed. I think it was quite rare at the time to have an environment where even a young person like me who had just graduated from university could have what I had to say without being told.

As I was studying and trying to remember my work, something happened that turned on my consciousness. One day, an employee came into the information room and asked, ``Where is the book with the Center Pompidou in it?'' 'That's what he said. At that time, a senior colleague sitting next to me immediately replied that the book was on the middle page of the book in which row and shelf. At that time, I strongly felt that I wanted to be like this, and that I had to be like this."


Produced original content “Exposition Materials COLLECTION”

▲ “EXPO GALLERY” opened in January 2023 (*Reservation required)

Ishikawa says that the most important role in his job is to serve as a reference. In response to questions from employees who come to the resource room, we guide them to the most appropriate materials from among the 20,000 books available. At the same time, we collected photos of completed construction that show the results of the work at the Osaka Office. We have created an environment so that everyone at the Osaka Office can view it conveniently.

Ishikawa: One day, when I was collecting photos of completed construction, the chief designer told me, 'Your work is half-done.' He said, 'You can find out about the work being done at the Osaka office by asking the people in charge directly. Instead, I want to know what the Tokyo head office and the branches are doing.' Having realized this need, I began exchanging information with the Tokyo head office and each branch office. 

After a while, when the Internet became available, Ishikawa digitally managed photographs of completed construction and published them on the company's internal network. At the same time, Ishikawa created a database of book ledgers and created an easy-to-search system. Gradually, he says, people began to tell him, ``If you contact Mr. Ishikawa in Osaka, you will receive an answer.''

Ishikawa: ``However, we felt that it was difficult for indirect departments like ours, that is, departments that did not directly generate profits, to have people understand the necessity. I started thinking about what I could do to become a department that doesn't suffer."

After thinking about how he wanted to increase the value of the information resource room, Ishikawa finally came to the decision to create original content that only NOMURA could offer.

Ishikawa: “In 1992, our company published a 100-year corporate history, ``Display 100 Year Journey.''The company history room happened to be part of the reference room at the Osaka Office. I was watching the production process.

After the 100-year history was published, the person in charge of the company's history told me that there was an outside supervisor named Tsuyoshi Terashita, who had been collecting and storing Japan's leading exposition materials for 40 years. He also told me, ``Once you're done with your work, go and have a look at the materials.'' This really hit home for me. Materials from the expo are related to the foundations of the company's business. I thought it was something that should be developed as original content, so my boss and I asked to see the materials."

Ishikawa was deeply moved when he saw Mr. Terashita's precious materials. After signing a memorandum of understanding, it was decided that the collection, which was the volume of two 2-ton trucks, would be donated to NOMURA as materials for the Expo. This was the beginning of our original content, "EXPO MATERIALS COLLECTION."

Ishikawa: "The collection was so huge that it was really hard to organize it. The catalog of materials was only in Terashita's head, so we started by understanding the whole picture. Official records, photo albums, postcards, medals. We couldn't decide on a category until we had checked all the materials once. So we checked everything and then started to create a database. It was only when we finished that we realized that there were just under 10,000 items in total.

The only condition given by Mr. Terashita when receiving the donation was that the materials be of use to the world. That's why I was determined to manage it as a highly convenient database and publish it in a format that could be accessed both inside and outside the company.

In the end, we received the kind words from Mr. Terashita, who said, "I couldn't have done this myself. I'm glad I donated it to you."

(Reference:Nomulog "Things that can be passed on -Domestic Expo, World Expo and Expo Materials Collection-"

I want to pass on the collection to future generations without letting it disperse.

Preparing the materials for the exhibition was a major milestone in Ishikawa's career.

Ishikawa: “Once we released the `` Exposition Materials Collection,'' we received more and more inquiries from outside the organization.We receive inquiries from domestic and international researchers who would like to see the materials, and we receive requests from the media to provide images. The information resource room has gone beyond its function as an in-house library and has changed into a point of contact outside the company, and I personally feel that the scale of the work I am involved in has greatly expanded. I remember"

The collection includes items that Terashita has collected over the last 40 years. Ishikawa will continue to work diligently with the mission of making these items useful to society.

Ishikawa: "One of the members of the 2025 World Expo team once told me something very memorable. He said, 'You can change the future, but you can't change the past. The fact that we've properly accumulated so many Expo materials in the past will never change.' Even if other companies in the same industry wanted to do something similar, they would have to start from scratch, but our company has already accumulated about 20 years of experience. That's a big advantage.

I think that many of our current employees, especially the younger generation, don't know anything about expositions or world expos. First of all, I want them to look at these materials and learn more about the company they work for, NOMURA, Ltd. And I would be happy if they were proud of the company. I want to make sure that the collection doesn't get scattered, and pass it on to future generations."


42 years of service. Words exchanged and connections with people are precious treasures

▲ Presentation at the event academic conference (2010)

Having more opportunities to interact with people outside the company, Ishikawa decided to obtain a curator qualification. I obtained my qualification when I was over 50 years old.

In 2012, during NOMURA 120th anniversary, he joined the company history compilation department and gained a deeper understanding of the company's history. Since then, at the request of the Human Resources and General Affairs departments, he regularly speaks about NOMURA 's history to mid-career employees and external executives. His goal is to "create fans of NOMURA."

Ishikawa: "I've been involved with NOMURA for 42 years, and before I knew it, I had become a fan of NOMURA myself. The company's founder, Yasusuke Nomura, was the kind of person who would never say 'I can't do it,' even when given an impossible task. He would always offer an alternative, saying, 'I think we can make it happen if we do it this way.' The fourth-generation president, Eiichi Arita, who was with us when I joined the company, was also a very creative person, more like a designer than a manager. I still find the inquisitive personalities of the company's past presidents fascinating.

I think that the president's humanity is spreading throughout the company. The current employees are all people who will boldly overcome any difficult situation and see it through to the end. I feel that everyone is pursuing work of the "NOMURA level."

I have worked in the resource room for a long time and have met many people. The words we exchange and the connections we make are the treasures of life. Words like ``Thank you'' and ``Thank you for helping me'' gave me the most encouragement. After participating in the Expo Research Group, I was asked to write a 20,000-word paper, which turned out to be more than I expected. I'm so grateful.

Compared to when I first started working there as a part-timer, NOMURA has become a much more company-like company. But what hasn't changed is that each employee has a strong sense of individuality, and that individuality is respected. I will continue to work here as a fan of NOMURA, with pride in my heart."

Looking back, Ishikawa joined NOMURA by chance. Now that he has devoted himself wholeheartedly to the challenges before him, he feels that his life has become more vividly colored.

*The contents are as of December 2023.

Atsuko Ishikawa

At the age of 12, he experienced the 1970 World Expo in Japan (Osaka Expo) and was deeply moved. He joined the company without knowing that it was the company that created the pavilion displays at the Osaka Expo. For 42 years, he has been consistently involved in organizing materials and their utilization. Since 2001, which marks the midpoint, he has been involved in accepting, publishing, and managing original content from the Expo, and continues to work as an outsourced staff member.

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