Sunday, June 19, 2011

An interview with the father of G-Shock, Ibe Kikuo-san

 Mister Ibe Kikuo is the man who originally developed the first G-Shock at the Research and Development department of Casio almost 30 years ago. I have read several interviews of him and I also met him in Barcelona October 2009. In all interviews I read about mister Ibe are about his watches, I tried to find out more about the man, who developed the watches. I was very happy that Mister Ibe made some time to have a little talk with me.Also I like to thank mister Watanabe, Managing Director of Casio Benelux B.V.. Without him and his interpreter qualities, this interview would not have been possible.
Sjors: "Mister Ibe, I’ll know you developed the G-Shock 30 years ago. Do you think you are considered a senior of Casio now, I mean is your name known under the people of Casio?"

Mr. Ibe: "Casio has about 12000 employees worldwide. Maybe most of the employees must have heard my name, but I am not sure."

Sjors: "I know you like watches, but beside watches, do you have other hobbies?"

Mr. Ibe: "I very much like to exercise."

Sjors: "Running?"

Mr. Ibe: "Yes Running."

Sjors: "Oh, that brings me to an interesting question. Are there going to be G-Shock for running specially with a lap timers?"

Mister Ibe is thinking deep. “There must be one”.

Sjors: “Yes, know. If I’m right it is the G-2400”

Mr. Ibe: “Aaahhh, okay” (looking impressed).

Sjors: “Yes, I know my numbers”
 From left to right: Mr Ibe Kikuo, Liza Koifman (OntFront), Tomas Overtoom (OntFront), Kevin Langeree (PKRA World Champion Kit Surfing 2009 and Brand Ambassador of Casio G-Shock) and Mr Shigeru Watanabe (Marketing Director Casio Benelux B.V.).

Mr. Ibe: “Do you mean, there should be more G-Shocks, for runners?”

Sjors: “Well, it’s a question I have heard many times. I’m part of a pretty large G-Shock community of users and collectors. There are also runners amongst them and they say the only thing is missing on a G-Shock is a Lap Timer.”

Mr. Ibe: “Ah that’s interesting, maybe in the future.”
Sjors: "I know you have only black watches…"

Mister Ibe shows proud his DW-5600E, which flawless survived a hit test during his presentation.

Sjors: "…though I know you are a color full person. What do you think of all those bight color variations of G-Shock that are out now?"

Mr. Ibe: "I like all the color variations. It can show who you are and you can match your watch with your clothes"
I look at my HTML x G-Shock shirt and my red Frogman. I had definitively not the right color, but then I saw Mister Ibe’s red shirt, which matches my red Frogman. “Normally I try to match my G-Shock to my clothes, but I don’t have a red G-Shock T-Shirt.”

Mr. Ibe: “That´s a beautiful T-Shirt”
Sjors: “Yes, thank you. I bought it in Japan. I had a friend and G-Shock Collector there who arranged it for me. There are now a lot of collectors of G-Shock in the world, what do you think of this?"

Mr. Ibe: “Well, I didn’t expect it all in the beginning, but of course, I appreciate it very much that people love the G-Shock so much.”

Sjors: “Yes, I am active with G-Peopleland on Facebook too and many people from all over the world tell me they love G-Shock so much. I always am amazed as I am actually a guy who lives in the countryside.”

Mr. Ibe: “Where are you from?”

Sjors: “I live in Middelburg, a small town in the South of The Netherlands, but in the past it was an important town where also ships left to Japan for trade. The Dutch were the only allowed to trade with Japan from a small Island.”

Mr. Ibe: "Ah, that was on the Western part of Japan, you do you mean about 400 years ago??"

Sjors: "Yes"

Mr. Ibe: "Oh, that’ was at Dejima at Nagasaki"

Sjors: "Is this the first time you visit The Netherlands?"

Mr. Ibe: "It is the second time I am here."

Sjors: "The second time already, so what do you think of country?"
At the end of the presentation Mister Ibe Kikuo showed this slide and read the text. Translated it says: "I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the volunteered support given by the people of The Netherlands after the severe earthquake that hit Japan earlier this year"After Mr Ibe had read the words there was a moment of silence, followed by a big  applause.

Mr. Ibe: "First thing,  I was impressed. The towns and cities are very clean. Also outside the towns it’s beautiful. Not only the nature, but also the farms and so. It is a nice scenery. Second thing, I find the people are warm and have an open mind. That impressed me also very much."

Sjors: "That last thing, I think, is typical Dutch."

Mr. Ibe:"Yes" (interrupted by a worried girl, about a the OntFront collaboration model, that tipped over in the display).

Sjors: "Where do you live?"

Mr. Ibe: "I live in Hamura. It is a city, north of Tokyo." 

Sjors: "It’s funny you mentioned it’s clean here, as I have been in Tokyo and New York and thought it was clean there."

Mr. Ibe: "Yeah, he laughs, right."

Sjors: "I noticed you always do your presentation at Shock The World always in the language of the Country."

Mr. Ibe: "Ha, ha, You know it."
Sjors: "I am very impressed you did your presentation here in Dutch and when I was in Barcelona you did it is Spanish, which was impressive, but a little pity for me, as I don´t speak Spanish. So now I am curious, how many languages do you speak."

Mister Ibe is laughing and amused: “Not many actually. Every time I go to Shock The World, I practice. I think, for this time in Amsterdam, I started the preparation more than a month ago. I was in Japan when I was preparing. I had a Dutch speaking tool and I had a Dutch teacher in Japan, so I trained a lot.

Sjors: "So, you do this every time you go to visit Shock The World?"

Mr. Ibe: "Yes"

Sjors: "That’s impressive."

Mister Ibe smiles and repeats his life motto: “Never Give up!”
Sjors: "I am impressed. I have been in Japan recently. The difference between Japanese and English and Dutch are so difficult. I remember I had to call a friend on the train ( it’s actually very rude to use a phone in a train in Japan) which station I should get of. At the time I hung up the phone I was already forgotten the name of the station, so I sometimes had to call 2 or three times to ask the name again. It must take a lot of time and energy to learn these languages for you. Why do you always speak at Shock the World in the local language?"

Mr. Ibe: "This is the way I show my respect and also politeness to the people who come all the way to participate in the Shock the World, that is why I do this."
Mister Ibe Kikuo at the display case with his creation. The DW-5000C from 1983
Sjors: "Well, I think that’s all I wanted to ask. Thank you very much for making time for this interview."

Mr. Ibe: "Thank you, thank you very much."
Sjors: "Can I ask you a small thing?" (while I open my camera bag and take out two 2 g-Shocks and a fine ti marker). I don’t have to ask any more. Mister Ibe signs my yellow and Green Collection G-6900 G-Shocks.
Photo's: by Jack van de Wege and "Lester Burnham" and Sjors.

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