Osaka Gets its First Makerspace

By Jessica Rose on at

Osaka's first self-styled makerspace is open for business, joining FabLab and the electronics workshops of DenDen Town as part of Osaka's maker landscape. Makerspaces and hackspaces around the world provide tools and space for members to work on their own projects. The emergence of these spaces form part of a larger maker movement focused on empowering people to repair existing items and build creatively.

John Daniels and Ryan Carlson have founded the space for members and guests to work on DIY projects alongside a supportive community of makers. Members like Yuya Ishikawa are joined by Arduino, a charming white kitten that the space has adopted as a mascot. A programmer by trade, Ishikawa joined the maker space to experiment with circuitry and hardware. He looks forward to continuing to expand his activity in the maker community by attending maker fairs and creating artwork.

The Osaka Makers' Space began as a community of makers, brought together through events and meetups John ran in Osaka. As demand for the events steadily rose, he set out to find a small but permanent home for his community. In his search he met Ryan and they began working together to form a larger space to house their members and equipment. The makerspace hosts equipment for working in wood and metal, electronics repair and speciality arts, including surprises like chainmail. A newly upgraded 3D printer vies for space with computers for design, programming and gaming. Equipment for welding and etching are available. Carefully organised screws, bolts and electrical components are tucked into corners while hand tools and finished projects cover the walls.

John and Ryan designed the space without having been to another makerspace, relying instead on their shared personal vision for inspiration. They've chosen their equipment and layout based on feedback from members and the community surrounding the space. Choosing a quiet location near Nipponbashi’s electronics shopping district provides the space ready access to materials and inspiration. This has produced a vibrant mix of makerspace staples like 3D printing facilities and unexpected gems which include sewing machines for cosplay enthusiasts, a nod to the district’s manga and anime shops.

Setting up the space and equipment took several months and the work of volunteers. The next challenge for Osaka Makers' Space is to attract new members and grow local interest in maker culture. The space continues to run regular events and meetups to introduce people to the space and teach new maker skills. Courses on making chainmail, electronics repair and leatherworking start from ¥2,000. Courses and are available in English or Japanese, drawing a range of international and local interest.

Makerspaces and the maker movement offer Japan’s tech sector a chance to innovate through providing access to tooling, infrastructure and skills sharing. As ever-lower costs of personal computers have lowered the barrier to entry for creating software, costs associated with creating in the manufacturing and hardware spaces remain high. Hobbyists and early stage entrepreneurs are able to build and refine product prototypes without heavy investments in equipment. By pooling and sharing the costs of professional-grade prototyping equipment like 3D printers, entrepreneurs are able to develop products before taking on investment.

Ryan and John support the space through membership fees, offering courses and through performing repairs. Members can join for a flat monthly fee of ¥10,000 for unlimited access to the space and tools, or can purchase passes for daily or hourly access. Special children's rates and work with local schools have helped the Ryan and John share their passion with a new generation of makers. Visit their website or find them on Facebook to learn more about the space and membership.