Listen to live talks by leading experts about breakthrough ideas, investing in Japan, the best way to rebuild post-3.11 Japan, and more.

Network with a small, curated group of high-impact designers, entrepreneurs, and VCs from Japan and the US.

Come and meet The Tofu People -- 10 amazing, fun, high-impact entrepreneurial individuals who we believe are most likely to change the trajectory of post-earthquake Japan.


9:00-11:20 // Session 1: Using design thinking to transform the innovation process

* John Maeda (president, Rhode Island School of Design) STEM to STEAM: The meaning of innovation
* Peter Sims (author of Little Bets): How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries
* Sami Inkinen (founder/CEO of Business Athlete: How I went from 0 to 380 employees, and not being able to swim to a triathlon world champion in 6 years, all at the same time
* Startup Happiness: A collective experiment in empathy, values, and Japanese culture

11:20-11:45 Break

11:45-12:40 // Session 2: Entering the global marketplace of products and ideas

* Dave McClure, (founding partner, 500 Startups): Investing in Japan--trials and tribulations
* Porter Gale (Former VP of Marketing, Virgin America): Product Innovation: its impact in a transparent world
* A very grateful shoutout to our event sponsor,

1:00-2:00 // Lunch with a special performance by Maywa Denki

2:00-4:00 // Panel discussions: Telling stories about Japan, and figuring out how to “save” the country after the earthquake

* How to pitch the US media: John Bradley (senior editor, Wired), Mat Honan (senior reporter, Gizmodo), Tomoko A. Hosaka (reporter, AP), moderated by Lisa Katayama
* How small businesses can help rebuild Tohoku: Autumn Ness (Architecture for Humanity), Matt Flannery (founder,, Riyo Yoshioka (Human Rights Watch), moderated by TBD

4:00-6:00 Happy hour with The Tofu Attendees

Design workshops all day
How to do business with “flaky” Americans
Stereotypes about Japanese culture
Design your own bear
+ others



Matt Flannery

Matt Flannery

founder + CEO of Kiva

Porter Gale

Porter Gale

former vp of marketing at Virgin America

Sami Inkinen

Sami Inkinen

triathlete + founder of

John Maeda

John Maeda

president of Rhode Island School of Design

Dave McClure

Dave McClure

founding partner at 500 Startups

Peter Sims

Peter Sims

bestselling author of Little Bets


Don't have an invite code? Don't worry, we have a few seats reserved for awesome people whom we don't know yet. Send your name and a brief description of who you are + what you do to info [at] thetofuproject [dot] com and we'll get back to you shortly about whether we can hold a ticket for you to purchase.

If you received an invitation email, please access this page via that email to register. Please note that tickets will *not* be sold at the door.

The Tofu Project is a highly curated boutique program in design thinking, branding, innovation, and entrepreneurship based out of Tokyo and San Francisco. We aim to break down the cultural and logistical barriers that prevent Japan from maximizing its impact in the global marketplace of products and ideas. Think of it as a custom-designed, high-end alternative executive MBA-style boot camp with a deeply creative twist. The Tofu Project was created by journalist Lisa Katayama and designer Tomo Saito with the gracious support of advisors like Joi Ito and John Maeda, plus an amazing group of staff, friends, and mentors.

From October 27th to November 2nd, The Tofu Project is bringing 10 amazing, fun, high-impact entrepreneurial individuals from Japan to San Francisco whom we believe are most likely to change the trajectory of post-earthquake Japan.

Twitter: @tofuproject  

© The Tofu Project, All Rights Reserved.