Kotobuki-Based Alternative Place “Kadobeya” (“Corner Room”)

“Kadobeya” was established jointly by Koto-Lab LLC and Keio University in April 2010. From June of that year, “Moving Classrooms” were held every Tuesday at Kadobeya as part of the civil engagement activities sponsored by the Program for Promoting University Education Reform of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The event involved physical exercise, talking to, and also eating together, with the aim of facilitating exchanges between people from various backgrounds.
At the end of the project’s term in March 2012, members involved in the university education projects and the “Moving Classrooms” established “’Alternative Space: Tuesdays in Kadobeya.” Other than the continuation of the “Moving Classrooms,” the objective was to host “Open Days” every Tuesday that were accessible to a greater number of people and in which attendees could freely gather wherever they felt comfortable.

Kotobuki-Based Alternative Place “Kadobeya” (“Corner Room”)


Kotobuki is a district referred to as one of “three famous day-laboring districts of Japan.” In the past, this was a town of day laborers who supported rapid growth not only in Yokohama, but all of Japan. Today, Kotobuki is an aging town in which many residents are on public assistance. One hundred and twenty or more simple accommodations line in the small area, 200 by 300 meter blocks. The inhabitants consists of approximately 6,500 people, mostly unmarried males and in their 50s or older. The neighboring residential area of Ishikawa-cho is also aging, and empty houses can be observed. Located opposite the port of Minatomirai, with its flourishing commercial and cultural activities, various problems directly confronting our society are clearly materializing. In other words, these corners of Yokohama are certainly a microcosm of what Japan will face in the next ten years; they are a microcosm of the global problems facing a global city. Therefore, this is a “textbook” situation for nurturing future leaders. It is no mistake that one of the ways in which knowledge is currently sought at the university level is through “civil engagement” and “regional contribution.” In particular, as a result of the 2011 earthquake, students began to recognize the significance in how they were connected together with other people and to the various problems facing society as members of society. Naturally, it is difficult to solve social problems. However, the meaning of university education is to determine the root causes of problems and issues through others. By participating in exchanges and activities with other people with different backgrounds, students themselves may be able to take steps in the right direction to help begin to alleviate those problems. The function of the Kadobeya is to serve as a base for such actions.

Content (Kadobeya: present and future)

The foundations of wisdom are “imagination” and “creativity.” Through activities in Kadobeya, students not only imagine but also experience problems hands on through their minds and bodies, listen to conversations, join in activities, and commit their time. In doing so, they will come into contact for the first time with “towns” and “people,” and throughout their daily routine and lives, cultivate a foundation for championing various problems and try to solve those problems using their own creativity. In April 2012, as the university education and student support projects were concluding, the operation of Kadobeya was transferred to Koto-Lab LLC. Keio University has provided educational content and local exchange content. Significant developments are beginning to grow out of the two projects listed above. First, Keio University classes are expanding. Since this past April, joint seminars with other universities have begun, and joint projects at Kadobeya are progressing at a pace of once per month. Current partnerships include seminars at the College of Sociology at Rikkyo University and the at Department of Human Sciences at Yokohama National University. The future plan is for Kadobeya to serve as a base for a network of various universities. In addition, since May 2012, every Tuesday is an “Open Day.” This began with an aim to serve as locations for local exchange. Beginning at 5:30 pm there is an “Ashiyu (free foot bath) cafe” and beginning at 7:00 pm, the previous “Moving Classrooms,” newly titled as “Stretching and Dinner,” occur. The social engagement and regional contributions that can be conducted by universities certainly take various forms. First, we would like Kadobeya to begin taking small steps regarding “It is always out there” and “It is open to everyone”.


The alternative space “Kadobeya” started as part of the civil engagement activities within the Keio University’s “Liberal Arts and Development of Language Skills through Affective Experience.” These projects fall under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Program for Promoting University Education and Student Support Theme [Theme A] Program for Promoting University Education Reform. They were established jointly by Koto-Lab LLC and Keio University in April 2010. The name “Kadobeya” comes from its location at the corner in between Naka Ward and Minami Ward. The spaces are finished and homegrown, receiving support from architects, artists, students, and inhabitants living in nearby Kotobuki. The spaces borrow the first floors of detached houses and provide areas in which one can move his or her body. This space has played mainly two roles. First, these spaces serve as bases for classes at Keio University. The plan is to hold a “Kotobuki Project Caring, Listening, and Storytelling” class (for first and second year students) in which students visiting nearby Kotobuki area will learn about the town and its people, while helping elderly people living alone. A class for third and fourth year students will reflect on the future of Kotobuki and nearby Ishikawa-cho, in cooperation with local inhabitants, social entrepreneurs, and NPO organizations. One more project involves the role of “alternative space” in which many people gather and feel at home. Presently, every Tuesday evening since June 2010, “Moving Classrooms” (presently “Stretching and Dinner”) have been held. These sessions tie together physical and activities (dancing, exercise, etc.), creative activities based on words (poems, letter-writing, etc.), and eating together. Therefore, the aim has been to facilitate exchanges between people of various backgrounds under a single roof, including inhabitants of neighboring Kotobuki and Ishikawa-cho, people working in Yokohama, and students.