Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA

The Durable Social Innovation Alliance (DSIA) stimulates sustainable Japanese-style social innovations through entre- and intra-preneurial activities, which are enhanced by alliances among diverse partners including companies, governments and NPOs. DSIA's goal is to create new social values and knowledge, but still path-dependently based on Japanese traditional and corporate culture, technology, socio-economic behavior and past experiences. The DSIA contributes to developing human resources who will tackle social issues, as "opportunities of changes" (Drucker), with a strong mind of social innovation and entrepreneurship. By doing so, we hope to re-generate and re-activ...
Jul 28, 2014

Noisy Playroom with Tough Continuous Struggles

Noisy Playroom
Noisy Playroom

Kirarin Kids’ (KK) playroom was unusually noisy with more children and parents than before (see an attached picture), because of the beginning of summer break. Since I was a little bit too busy, I was late to come to visit KK for about one week. This unavoidable difficulty turned out to be good. I usually come on Friday at the beginning of July, when KK usually does not carry any special event. This time, though without any special event, was different from other times, having many clients.

I came to recognize in their pamphlet that KK started organizing their activity structure. They now focus on eight major programs: (1) Kirarin Kids; (2) Kirarin Egg and Baby; (3) Kirarin Mama; (4) Kirarin Papa; (5) Kirarin Café; (6) Kirarin Miniature Farming; (7) Kirarin Refresh; and (8) other events. I shall explain briefly below:

(1)   This is the key program to provide diverse activities to children, such as playroom activities, birthday parties, diverse seasonal children’s activities, etc.

(2)   This is a session for mothers and babies, in which mothers learn how to conduct baby massages and even share experiences and worries related to babies among them. It is a highly important program, especially for new mothers. They also offer diverse measuring devices to keep the record of children’s growth.

(3)   They have yoga sessions and seminars for mothers. The latter is to discuss about how to care children among mothers. Often, volunteer experts come to visit KK to offer counselling.

(4)   This started as a special session to provide opportunities for families that lost mothers in the disaster. But now it is opened to all fathers to have opportunities to play with their children. This is not yet popular, but several fathers come to make use of this nice opportunity to play with their children whom they hardly have time to be with.

(5)   This is a session to prepare lunch or make cookies and cakes and enjoy eating together. They make sure to include the cooking of traditional local food. This program is becoming quite popular, since mothers find this a good opportunity to meet other mothers, while children actually engage in making food with mothers.

(6)   Now, KK rents a small plot of farm land nearby. Children lean the value of farming by not only making vegetables, but also experiencing the joy of cropping. They also use crops at the Kirarin Café.

(7)   This is a program to offer diverse activities to refresh mothers, such as making candles, learning about aroma and color therapies, etc.

(8)   In other activities, they have doctors come for providing health advises on childcare, collect Bell marks together to donate money to schools, have a City’s mobile children’s library coming to KK, a mobile toy library to come to KK, rent baby goods, bring specialists to provide special consulting related to children, offer lessons on baby food, and promote inter-generational and local mingling.

This is the first time I see their activities presented in this organized manner. This suggests that they need to clarify their positions due to severe competition among childcare organizations in Rikuzen Takata.  The number is increasing, especially day care centers for working mothers. By law, one child minder is necessary for every four children. Because of increased demand for daycare centers, now there is a serious shortage of child minders in Rikuzen Takata. In contrast to growing sector of daycare, KK differentiates to focus on improving child-mother relations and building warm family relations, inheriting a good part of traditional-community-based living and practices. This is the key attraction of KK, highly valuable to rebuild disaster-stricken communities and preserve local identities. But the reality seems to be going in favor of daycare centers and working mothers. KK’s fight is not only to obtain a pair of mothers and children, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find, but also to preserve some good aspect of local culture and tradition, which is also becoming less attractive to young mothers. KK is not losing a game, but is facing competition from increasing competition and changes in the society. But KK started having grandmothers and grandfathers, bring their grandchildren to KK, finding their services highly valuable. Grandparents remain highly important childcare providers in a rural community, while mothers are away working, but they tend to be highly hesitant to mingle with young mothers. Now, this trend is changing. Even grandparents started using KK for keeping their grandchildren happy. A few fathers are finding the KK Papa highly useful to play with their children. So, despite competition, KK is finding new types of clients.

As a way of attracting their clients and bringing people to interact more, KK usually plans one annual big event. The last year, they rented a bus and went to the New Zealand Village. Because KK is from a disaster-stricken area, it was given a free access to the Village, and even the cost of the bus was donated by a Tokyo-based NPO. Now, three years after the disaster, donation is really drying up, and having such an annual event is becoming increasingly difficult because of cost. Even though KK started charging a small amount of money in diverse events, this bus trip is too costly. For this Fall, they are planning to go to “Anpan Man Land (an amusement park based on a Japanese famous cartoon),” they are not certain yet whether they can reduce the cost of the operation by donations and offer the event.

Your future contribution is highly appreciated for several reasons: (1) to keep an organization trying to nurture warm child-mother relations in the midst of opposite trend of daycare center popularity taking place in Rikuzen Takata; and (2) to keep big events to promote such relations when donations are becoming less and less. Thank you very much for your kind and continuous support.   

Sand Conveyor for Lifting up Land Rikuzen Takata
Sand Conveyor for Lifting up Land Rikuzen Takata

Links:

Jul 28, 2014

To Be No.1 Event Organizing Arcade in Tohoku

Pre-game Lecture on Japan
Pre-game Lecture on Japan's Strategies

The Happy Shopping Arcade () (HSA) in Isatomae, Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, has been extremely active to organized many events and bring people from outside of the local community, since Isatomae having the population of only 5,000 is not big enough to keep the shopping arcade going.

Since the Isatomae became the first training camp for the J-league (the Japanese professional soccer league) when it was established in 1991, it has been keeping good relationships with diverse J-league soccer teams. These relations turned out to be highly valuable assets for keeping HSA to bring soccer fans to support the community. The HSA is the only place where you can see many flags of J-league soccer teams flying. Hence, the HSA organized a public viewing of Japan- Côte d'Ivoire game in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Game held in Brazil. They established a tent, set two big-screen televisions, and an NTT-provided projector which unfortunately was difficult to watch due to sun shine. They also had the attendance of Mr. Hisago Sato who became the 2013 scoring leader in Sanfrecce Hiroshima, six present J-league players who signed on a soccer ball, two 2010 world soccer Japan team players, and a famous soccer game commentator who is the coach of the Sendai University Soccer Team. HSA kept a list of attendants and found that even several people came from Kyushu District. A women soccer team from Sendai, Vegalta Sendai Ladies, donated 40 tickets for the August 3 game which was given away in a lottery and two uniforms. Before the game, six J-league members touched a ball to send spirit to the Japan team in Brazil.  Everybody was quite excited during the game until Japan lost two points.

About 200 people came to attend the public viewing, and four television stations reported about the event which was broadcasted as a national news (see the attached newspaper article). Among blue-color-shirt supporters to the Japan team, a group of red-color-shirt supporters were in the crowd. They were supporting Chilean team, since Minami-sanriku-cho and Chile’s Easter Island has a friendship relation. Forty people at Minami-sanriku-cho lost their lives due to tsunami caused by the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960. To commemorate the recovery from the disaster, Minami-sanriku-cho commissioned a sculptor in Easter Island to make a Moai which came to be placed at Shizukawa High School. Unfortunately, this sculpture was lost in the 2011 Tsunami Disaster. Then, the Easter island sent a gift of a Moai sculpture to the town. Since there was a strong sense of good relations with Chile, a group of students wore red shirts to cheer the Chilean team.

After the game, the HSA was hoping to sell a lot of food and drinks, while providing some food for free. Unfortunately, everybody was so discouraged by losing the game, they did not stay at the HSA. In a sense, the public viewing was very successful, but the HSA could not make as much business as expected. Although it was unfortunate that the Japan team lost the game, the public viewing was really successful.

On August 3, the HSA is planning to have a fishing competition for which participants pay for a boat and go ocean fishing. On August 10 and 11, they are to have a summer festival, in which diverse participants play on the stage. The key attraction is BEGIN from Okinawa who also participated to commemorate the return of a Utatsu (Isatomae) post which drifted to Okinawa via Hawaii Islands. After many performances by participants, the festival will end with fireworks to commemorate those who lost their lives on 3.11. On August 16, they will have a Minami-sanriku Festival, and September 14, the town becomes a resting place for the Le Tour de Tohoku for 200 km bicycle competition. In October, they are planning to have an exhibition of 30 decorated and painted cars.    

With regard to raising the level of land, unlike Rikuzen Takata City and Shizukawa in Minami-sanriku-cho, hardly anything is taking place, while the planning of shopping arcade and the new housing area are very much coming to the final stage. People are now applying for housing to be built. The delay in land raising in Isatomae relative to other cities seems to be causing additional frustration, but at least they are eagerly participating to develop overall land planning, the construction of the shopping arcade, and other facilities. But there are many who just cannot wait for this slow development and purchases their own land and house outside of scheduled places. This is generating another psychological problem to those who are not capable of leaving temporary houses, giving them an identity of losers. Now, different are the financial conditions of those who had a tsunami insurance which was only 3% of disaster-stricken people and those who had fire insurance in Ohfunato whose houses were destroyed by fire rather than tsunami from those who did not benefit from these types of insurance.

Previous GlobalGiving donation to Isatomae was used to have this World Soccer Game Viewing, and they were extremely appreciative of the donation, especially because it turned out to be a big success. As written above, since they are planning to organize more events to become the No. 1 event organizing arcade in Tohoku for keeping their arcade alive, future donations are indispensable. They will very much appreciate future donations.

Sending Hearty Cheers to Japan Team
Sending Hearty Cheers to Japan Team
Viewing Game with J-league Flags on Ceiling
Viewing Game with J-league Flags on Ceiling
News Reporting of Public Viewing
News Reporting of Public Viewing

Links:

Apr 21, 2014

Challenges after Challenges

Friday Morning Clients 1
Friday Morning Clients 1

Kirarin Kids (KK) in Rikuzen Takata is operating fairly well with stable customers with a subsidy coming from the City Government, though they now have a few competitors dealing with pre-school children, such as Ayukko and Mama Salon. Mothers seem to make use of multiple facilities to satisfy different types of services offered by each group.

As written previously, KK tries to achieve their goals of providing a place for parent-children interaction and promoting healthy development of children in a community. These goals are achieved through their regular programs: (1) sessions for enhancing children-mother relations, such as Nobody-Perfect lessons, eurhythmic lessons with music, symbolic therapy, counselling by a professional, etc.; (2) excursions; (3) sports activities such as Kirarin yoga, baby massages, Kirarin refreshing exercises, etc.; (4) aroma activities; (5) mobile toy library; (6) cooking sessions (traditional and healthy food, cookies, etc.); (7) birthday parties; (8) toy making; (9) collecting bell marks; etc.

KK also offers diverse events. The most significant event recently planned is a meeting with the Mayor of Rikuzen Takata City, Mr. Toba, at the KK on May 23 (Fri.), when he will meet parents and other people to hear their opinions and exchange views. Also, as mentioned in the previous report, they continue offering a program called “On Sundays,” for father-children relations, with a content support provided by an NPO called “Fathering Japan.” They also started offering services in temporary housing areas every other month, so that mothers in remote temporary housing areas can have a chance to enjoy services offered by the KK.  

Donations to KK made through GlobalGiving were mostly used for mothers’ diverse training programs. In addition to English language classes for children and mothers reported earlier, the IT lessons had the participation of seven to eight mothers. With the cooperation of NEC and some financial support from the Kiwanis Japan Foundation, lessons on Excell was held five times on Sept. 30, Oct. 1, Oct. 31, Nov. 28, and Dec. 5, 2013, and those on album making was held three times on March 4, 12 and 25, 2014. An impressive outcome of these activities is that not only mothers enjoyed and learned the basic of how to use software, but also one person got an employment at the Rikuzen Takata City, starting April 1, 2014. The DSIA seems to be contributing to the empowerment of mothers through the KK programs. Besides, such training is generating a new collaboration with another NPO, the Save Takata, which is developing a project, called Telework, to develop a system to bring works from Tokyo through IT connections.  

Since the present temporary housing offered by the government is usually said to last two more years, what will happen with the present occupants of the temporary housing is becoming a serious concern. The KK has been contacting the City Government to find out its plan only to face the lack of information, uncertainty and frustration. The number of children in the city seems to be declining, which may require the city to make some selections with regard to childcare organizations. In a new city planning, there will be a cultural center planned to be built. But unfortunately, information about which organizations will enter the facility is not disclosed, while KK was informed to report its plan of operating location before the end of this year. It seems that by fall 2015, almost everything will be fixed. Given uncertainty, KK has set up several contingency plans of (1) remaining in the present place if they are allowed to do so; (2) renting an old house where they can have children engage in agricultural activities; (3) renting a space in the newly established city; and (4) moving into the cultural center. At this moment, they are finding it quite difficult to make any decision, while uncertainty is giving a lot of frustration to the KK. They are now facing new challenges, though they have fairly well overcome past difficulties. We need to psychologically and continuously support the KK, until it will overcome the last stage of redevelopment from the disaster. The KK still needs not only donations, but also psychological support from donors through GlobalGiving.

Friday Morning Clients 2
Friday Morning Clients 2

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