4th Island Meeting Held on Mikurashima

The Tokyo Treasure Islands Project is a project which aims to refine the Tokyo's islands brands through "Shima-Kaigi" (Island Meetings) with residents. This report covers the fourth island meeting and study tour of Mikurashima held on November 26.

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Finding methods on how to use what is in Mikurashima

The participants of Mikurashima who discussed action ideas using what is in Mikurashima during the third island meeting headed to Fujidana Department, a regional community space in Kanagawa Prefecture's Nishi-Yokohama, to find hints. Here, the participants listened to three of their initiatives.

The first to speak was the Representative Director of the General Incorporated Institute Hamanone, which promotes the Hamagurihama Project in Miyagi Prefecture's Ishinomaki City. The project aims to restore the shores that were damaged during the Great East Japan Earthquake by renovating an old house into a café called Hamaguridou with the theme of "living, livelihood, and learning," activities such as SUP, forestry, forest restoration, fishery, hunting, wild game, and by accepting corporate training trips.

After the disaster, the Representative Director, who was born in Ishinomaki City, decided to use a marginal village with two households and five people, and make it a fun place where people gather. He spent eight years to realize it.

He had volunteers have fun while creating a café before proceeding to use crowdfunding and assistance from companies, as well as subsidies, to develop other projects and create a condition where people gather. On the other hand, he faced the problem of unsatisfied neighbors who faced problems in their daily lives as a result of having 15,000 annual visitors in the second year after increased media reporting led to an increase in the number of visitors.
He then asked himself, "What do we want to cherish?" After thinking over, the site is open for three days a week, and lunchtimes require reservations.

In response to the Representative Director, who said that it was dangerous to be completely dependent on money after experiencing natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, participants asked what motivated him to make a decision. He responded by saying, "I'd ask myself whether I would be satisfied if I were to die tomorrow."
When asked about the secret to creating communities to borrow manpower, he said "Enjoying it is more important than a sense of duty," to which the participants seemed to sympathize.

Hints on creating spaces that develop the users' autonomy

Next, the participants spoke with the owner of Fujidana Department, who is also an architect. In addition to a shared kitchen where cafes and cooking lessons that change every day can be opened, the space is also the region's community space that combines a select shop and library.
It all began when the owner, who lived in the apartment behind the area, was listening to the troubled landlord who wanted to make the space more open.

The owner thought about what he could do from the perspective of a resident and what kind of environment would be easy to use and would make life easier. He made a list of the wishes of those in the area, which included a day-care center for children, a trial shop-like area, and an area where people can easily grab lunch.

The current management form was realized after securing working capital for three months via crowdfunding, Shinkin banks, and subsidies. After hearing that users comprise of men and women of all ages and that events are held throughout the year, the participants asked whether any incidents had taken place.

The owner said that there haven't been any to date, and talked about keeping in mind not to become a professional through and to operate on the basis of personalized relationships. As for hints, he said that "being a professional cuts down on autonomy," and talked about the importance of the stance of doing things together to create a vibe where the users act with autonomy.

Next, the participants listened to explanations given by the facilitator of And Saturday, a trial shop and kitchen located in Zushi City that can be rented on a daily basis and can be used as a café or restaurant, who is also working on building communities that connect different regions.

And Saturday is a small coffee shop with 10 seats that is only open on Saturdays. As a space where people can do what they want on days other than Saturday, the space accepts various challenges such as "one-day bartender" and "one-day handcraft store"

The participants nodded when the facilitator said, "No matter how small, it's important to try it once," before leaving Fujidana Department.

Shibuya University Network: Where people from within and beyond the region learn together

Lastly, the participants listened to a talk given by the headmaster of Shibuya University Network, which uses the region of Shibuya to connect residents of the region to people outside.

It began with a proposal in 2006 to make Shibuya a place for lifelong learning, which turned into the NPO organization Shibuya University Network, which operates to this day. Though Shibuya is known as the place where young people gather, the neighborhood association is mostly run by those in their 60's.The initiative began with the expectation of creating a program using Shibuya University Network for lifelong learning, which is of interest among young and late middle-aged people in their 20's to their 40's.

Those living outside of the ward can also apply to plan and operate a lifelong learning lecture. The lectures are held "somewhere in the city" and participation is, in principle, free.

There were some detailed events and workshops that were actually held, such as a workshop that focused on creating a disaster prevention manual as a project and a camping event in Yoyogi Park that made disaster simulations an event. The headmaster explained that the funds are collected through donations in the form of annual fees from supporters and through joint projects with companies and governments.

Shibuya University Network is run by volunteers who support the operation. When asked how the volunteers are found, the headmaster responded by saying, "There are two types of applicants: those who come to us because it seems fun and because they want to give it a try, and those that register at an informative volunteer recruitment session held on the third Saturday of every month. Most of them are between 20 and 40, but there are those in their 60's who come saying that they want to do something like this after retiring."

Lastly, the participants asked what should be done to increase the quality, since the number of visitors is limited due to reasons related to lodging in Mikurashima. The headmaster shared the tip of learning from islands and regions of comparable sizes and pointed out that Okinoerabujima (Kagoshima Prefecture), which uses the concept of doing something that can't be done in large areas, might be a good reference.

The participants, who learned many tips from the four initiatives, will next discuss detailed action plans at the fifth island meeting.