Mirai The Future of Us

20161018_163516Mirai is the Japanese word for future. It is a powerful word that leads to deep reflection—what have we done in the past, which leads to the consequences of today, and that dictates the options we have for tomorrow. I have been fascinated with the concept of Mirai ever since I was invited by the Japan Foundation to conduct a presentation at the Innovative City Forum 2016 in Tokyo.

Better known as the Japanese version of TED, the Innovative City Forum, started in 2013, gathers some of the most notable speakers from around the world to discuss the future direction of major cities and lifestyles from the perspectives of technology, art, creativity and urban development.

I was tasked by the Forum to introduce the strategic use of intangible cultural heritage and development of the related programmes at George Town World Heritage Incorporated, with “George Town Heritage Celebrations” as a case study. I cherished this opportunity, as I hoped to introduce the works and efforts of George Town’s community to the global platform. I also relished the opportunity to explore the possible Asian lifestyle of the future.

Indeed, it was a rewarding and fruitful trip. The scientists, architects, artists and social scientists presented their perspectives of the world to come through their ongoing work. It was a fascinating experience when the myriad puzzles were gradually combined through the presentations of the different speakers to form a cohesive vision of the future. It is very difficult for me to describe the beauty of this, so just visit the official website at and watch it yourself. The future is there—just add in a bit of imagination and you will see it.

14590525_343424449340047_5499374939076021296_nAside from the Forum, I was also invited to other side events organised in the area to jump-start Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, which included the Roppongi Art Night and the Sports and Culture World Forum Cooperative Event. I travelled very little to places outside Roppongi during my short trip in Japan but I met people from all over the world and we shared the same overwhelming excitement leading up to Tokyo 2020.

I told myself before leaving Roppongi, that Tokyo is ready for the future. But what about us in Malaysia?  Back home in Penang, life continues, but with a big push towards co-existence. Co-existence of development and heritage conservation, co-existence of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage, co-existence of genders, ethnic groups, and social classes. I am working towards a more sustainable future, and I hope I can make it by Tokyo 2020.

Currently the general manager of George Town World Heritage Incorporated, Dr. Ang was invited by The Japan Foundation Asia Center to participate as a panellist speaker at the Innovative City Forum 2016.

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