In December 2017, I became the first member of the ‘Relations’ program at SHIBAURA HOUSE. When the ‘Relations’ announcement appeared on my FaceBook feed, I immediately thought this is what I have been looking for. After living in Tokyo for more than ten years, I wanted to be part of a community where I could feel comfortable showing all of my identities: mother, entrepreneur, English-speaking, Japanese-speaking, in my 40s, and a “Tokyo resident” more than any one nationality. I also wanted space and support. I had a small office space, but it was not one that I could invite others to, and any time that I wanted to hold an event, I was on my own for finding a location, renting, and setting up the room. ‘Relations’ offers space — for individual work, meetings, and a monthly event — and the support of a three-person team.
On January 31, I held my first event as a ‘Relations’ member in the 5F ‘Bird Room.’ My company, Third Space Tokyo, supports individuals and organizations that are trying to make Tokyo into a better place to live for everyone. With this in mind, I asked Keiko Chida of the End of Life Care Association of Japan to partner with me and co-produce a ‘Death Over Dinner.’
Patrick, Motoyuki-san (Shibaura House) Keiko (End of Life Care Association) Lisa, Kenji (Third Space Tokyo) Ito-san (Shibaura House)
In the past, I would have had to meet at the other person’s office or at a cafe, but instead I could invite Keiko to Shibaura House for our meetings. We met on the 3F where the ‘Relations’ co-working program is based, and the first time I was so new to the program that I did not know to turn on the heat! We were very cold without knowing why. I learned later that I should have asked Patrick, who is always ready to help others become accustomed to being in SHIBAURA HOUSE.
As our event planning moved forward, Patrick, Motoyuki-san, and Ito-san asked occasionally if we had questions or needed help. They shared with us recommendations for catering companies and told us about a store around the corner where we could buy drinks on the night of the event. Patrick led me through the process of adding our event information into the template for the SHIBAURA HOUSE website, and we were able to advertise by linking to the English and Japanese announcements.
Patrick helped me to think through room set-up and he was there on the night of the event to move tables as necessary. Although I am sure that Patrick, Motoyuki-san, and Ito-san will not be able to join every ‘Relations’ event, they all came to this first one. I felt supported, and I benefitted from their practical help with clean-up afterward.
Participants were reluctant to leave at the end of the night.
SHIBAURA HOUSE is a special, unusual space. I love that the floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow me to work under natural light, and I am proud to give clients and collaborators a chance to visit. I can feel that my networks and opportunities will grow from being based here. The combination of independence and collaboration expected of ‘Relations’ members suits me well, and I am excited to be part of the program as it develops.