Part 2: An Interview with Art Director Masahiro Kakinokihara about his Thoughts on “Rocca,” an Intriguing, Hexagonal Card Game

2/23/2016 Interview Last modified 2 years ago

This is the last part of our interview with Mr. Masahiro Kakinokihara, the art director of Rocca. In part 1, he talked about Rocca’s launch, and how he established it into a brand. In part 2, we asked about what he has learned and gained through Rocca, and how it will develop in the future.

>>Part 1: An Interview with Art Director Masahiro Kakinokihara about his Thoughts on “Rocca,” an Intriguing, Hexagonal Card Game

Chapter 3: What I Gained from Workshops

–You have held workshops, and you are still holding a lot of it.

Yes. Every time I have a workshop, I decide beforehand to do something new, so each workshop’s contents are different.

–Could you give us an example?

One time, I had a large Rocca made, and I played “sugoroku” (a Japanese board game) with children. Another time, I held a workshop based on film; and another time we did time-lapse photography which we turned into a film. We connected the time-lapse photos that we took at a ski resort, and projected the resulting film on a screen made of snow.

008▲A workshop wherein film was projected on a screen made of snow
(The film made at the workshop can be viewed here)

–That’s amazing! That looks really interesting. How often do you hold workshops these days?

About once every two months.

–Do the people who participate in the workshops know about Rocca?

Rocca isn’t really well-known (laughs). Sometimes I ask those who attend design lectures if they’ve heard of Rocca, but only a few have heard of it – it really hit me that Rocca isn’t really well-known. Even students in design schools don’t know that Rocca has won an ADC Award so I think that Rocca still has a long way to go. (In 2011, Rocca received the ADC Award which is an annual award given for excellent design in the design industry.)

It may seem that I am doing things completely unrelated to my job but surprisingly it isn’t unrelated at all. I am finding lots of hints that will be useful in my advertising work. Mr. Miyata often used to say this when I was still at DRAFT. Actually, there have been many times when I’ve applied the things that I’ve learned at D-BROS to other things. Things like the mechanics of distribution, the current state of things, and relationships. When you think of these things and everything else, they’re not unrelated.


Chapter 4: A Circle of People Connected by Rocca

–From the sidelines it seems that advertising and games are totally different things.

But I think that the network of people that I have gained through Rocca was useful lots of times later on in my work.

–So that was a gateway, right?

Yes. For example, when I was thinking of exhibiting at the Salon del Mobile Milano, I went there in April 2011 to observe, and the people whom I met there are still very important people to me today.

While I was there, I visited the booth of Maruni Wood Industry, and there I coincidentally met Ms. Yoko Kawashima. Both she and Mr. Yamanaka, the founder of Maruni told me about a wonderful gallery called “Rossana Orlandi,” and they introduced me to Mr. Nakao who was with the gallery.

kaki120502_01▲ Spazio Rossana Orlandi, a respected arts and crafts boutique in Milan that’s crowded with people during Salon del Mobile Milano. If the owner Ms. Rossana does not like a product, it cannot be exhibited, but Rocca was exhibited at this boutique later on.

Also, when I visited the booth of an acquaintance, it just so happened that there were people there whom I have played Rocca with. I also met Ms. Sasao, the editor of the Roppongi Keizai Shimbun, and she really liked Rocca. Later on, she created opportunities for Rocca to be exhibited in Japan.

After making all kids of preparations, I exhibited Rocca at the Salon del Mobile Milano during the next year, in 2012. However, there was a problem because I was already in Milan when I found out that I cannot sell Rocca without a distributor. I asked Ms. Sasao for help, and the distributor that she found was Mr. Nakao whom I met the year earlier. With the help of Ms. Sasao, Mr. Nakao, and all the other people I met then, I was able to successfully exhibit Rocca.


▲Rocca being exhibited at the 2012 Salon del Mobile Milano, at a booth in the much longed-for Rossanna Orlandi space.

–Everything’s connected!

It was only for 2 nights and 3 days – a really short time, but I had plenty of precious encounters. I still have relationships with the people I met then.

I’ve been working with Ms. Sasao on “Salone in Roppongi” since its planning stages. This is an event that showcases Japanese businesses that are active in Milan, and now I am also involved in this event’s management. I’ve also been involved with Ms. Yoko Kawashima’s “ifs FUTURE LABORATORY” since its establishment; and now I am honored to be working on various projects with her. All of these encounters happened and all of these relationships were formed because of Rocca.

–Your connections with others are expanding because of Rocca.

Yes, that’s right. Rocca’s role has been enormous. Mr. Miyata has always highly regarded relationships, right? I think I’m this way because I’ve always been conscious of what Mr. Miyata said. If I weren’t conscious of this while working on my projects, each project would probably have ended with nothing coming out of it after. That’s why I am no match for Mr. Miyata (laughs).

–Do you still think this today?

Yes. Of course, even in advertising I’ve worked with many people and I’ve had a wide network, but now I closely work with people whom I can trust, and many of my projects now are jobs wherein we solve problems together.

–But even if you want projects like that, you don’t really get them, right?

Before I didn’t have the awareness of grabbing chances; and now I always think, what would have happened if I didn’t have this or that then. It really feels like I got here by walking on a tightrope (laughs).

–That was because your goal was not to sell Rocca – you created Rocca as a tool to connect people’s ideas, and that’s why it has spread to where it is today.

That’s right. If I’m always conscious of this goal going forward, I don’t think it’ll become obsolete. If I get tired of it, I can always create something new, but when I say “tired of it,” I don’t think it’s a matter of getting “tired of it” in the truest sense.

–Lastly, could you tell us of what you’re planning to develop and exhibit in the future?

This year, I will be exhibiting mainly “Rocca Town” and “32 bits,” a building block game at Salon del Mobile Milano.








▲A town expands by connecting houses together in Rocca Town, launched in 2014.








▲32 building blocks composed of tree fragments (bits). By sandwiching thin cloths in between the blocks, various forms that are impossible to make using normal building blocks can easily be built.

Regarding Rocca, I think it’s important for me to keep making games that feel fresh. Also joining festivals and having live events – that kind of thing.

–Even if it’s not related to Rocca, it’s fun to do those things and hold those events.

Yes, that’s right. In Rocca events, there will surely be more valuable encounters, and something interesting might happen out of those encounters.

— The fun that you’re having and the successes that you’ve had is coming through – I can feel them (laughs).

Yes, I am indeed having fun (laughs).

–That’s why everyone is drawn to Rocca!


D-BROS TOKYO carries four Rocca games: Rocca Classic, Rocca Card Blocks, Rocca Rail, and Rocca Town.

▼Buy the “ROCCA” here

About Rocca
Rocca is a card game created by game designer Mr. Trulie Okamocek and Draft alumnus and art director Mr. Masahiro Kakinokihara of 10inc. Rocca cards are a little intriguing – they are flat yet they look three-dimensional. As the game progresses, the cards are stacked on each other like building blocks, creating a three-dimensional-looking picture. It is a new type of game where fun and surprises abound using hexagonal cards.

▼About the “ROCCA”
“Rocca”: An Intriguing, Hexagonal Card Game Now Available at the D-BROS WEB STORE!
Game 1 in the Rocca Line-up: “Rocca Classic,” the Starting Point of Rocca
Game 2 in the Rocca Line-up: “Rocca Card Blocks,” Cards that Resemble Building Blocks
Game 3 in the Rocca Line-up: “Rocca Town,” an Expanding Colorful Town
Game 4 in the Rocca Line-up: “Rocca Rails,” An Intriguing Journey by Train
Part 1: An Interview with Art Director Masahiro Kakinokihara about his Thoughts on “Rocca,” an Intriguing, Hexagonal Card Game


Art Director / Graphic  Designer

Born in 1970 in Hiroshima Prefecture. After his time at Draft, he established 10 inc. in 2007. A member of JAGDA. A member of the Tokyo Art Directors Club.

Major projects include work done for singingAEON, branding for R.O.U, the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Shizuoka City Museum of Art. Won the ADC Award in 2007 for “The Smile in Japanese Art” at the Mori Art Museum. Won the Silver Prize at the New York ADC Awards, the ONESHOW Merit Award, and the Tokyo ADC Award in 2011 for Rocca. Won the ONESHOW PENCIL Award for Shizuoka City Museum of Art’s Corporate Identity . Won the GOOD DESIGN Award in 2012 for Rocca.




About the Author

Eriko Fujitani

Born 1982 in Tokyo Japan.
Graduated from Bunka Fashion College.
In 2011, Joined Draft co,ltd.