My parents are artists. They are also Japanese so it is no surprise that beautiful, simple design and aesthetics were emphasized in our upbringing. In fact, to this day we often hilariously quote my father when we see something ugly.
“Why so uguri uguri?” he would ask. Haha. Yeah, my sentiments exactly.
Why as we get older and we need more assistance, does the design often have to be so ugly and institutional looking? Why are nursing homes and other older adult living options so horrible (unless, of course, you are a multi-millionaire)?
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Share Kanazawa Japaenese Retirement Community
Well, it doesn’t and Share Kanazawa proves that senior living can be incredibly useful, community engaging, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Share Kanazawa is a unique elder village nestled in the mountains of Kanazawa, Japan. I got a tour of their facilities and was beyond impressed not only by the physical design (which is beautiful) but also by their community planning – the way they thoughtfully laid out the village so that local community members would also use and engage with the facilities as well.
There’s a restaurant, grocery store with a wide variety of goods, convenience store, soccer stadium, massage, gift shop, kitchen studio for classes, jazz club, hot spring, alpacas (yes alpacas! You’ll find out why when you watch the video). No wonder why neighbors want to come and visit this residential care village!
Share Kanazawa is an elderly community. A nursing home in Japan, about a two-hour train ride from Tokyo, where the aged can live out the remainder of their lives alongside students who volunteer there for reduced rent. It’s an amazing place that the community has created.
It’s a special, unique place, even for long-term senior living in Japan. The elderly can live at Share Kanazawa as well as people with disabilities, but it’s not just a place for the elderly and disabled–community residents are also welcome. Students lived there in what they call “mixed living.”
The Share Kanazawa Living Facilities
The Share Kanazawa Main Hall is designed so that as you enter the hall you can see the center of town. There you find the senior living community Main Hall restaurant, as well as a place where people can relax after taking a bath. Many of the products sold in the restaurant are made by the disabled residents, but the Japanese retirement community is part of a Buddhist group, so the food comes from all over. Community members harvest the produce every morning and sell it in the shop.
The guiding principles for this Japanese nursing home were “This is the correct way to do it. This is the lawful way. This makes the most business sense. But also Is this a fun way to do it? Will it feel good? Too often that falls on the back burner.”
There is a living facilities room used as an elder day care to teach lessons in the main hall, but the main hall also houses a kitchen that will deliver meals to the residents who live alone and can’t make it to the restaurant, as well as the aging population in the Kanazawa area who are not living in the Japanese assisted living center.
Share Kanazawa, as a senior independent living Japanese community, receives subsidies from the government which means the elderly can eat for about $4.50.
Everyone takes care of each other at this retirement village in Japan. The disablied take care of the alpacas that are on the small Japanese senior living farm, then the elderly take care of the disabled, and the patients with dementia do jobs they can do to care for the disabled. All of them are cared for by the Japanese continuing care community staff. So instead of everyone needing care, everyone gets care but they also give care.
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Share Kanazawa (in Japanese only)
Studio L (English)
Japan Times article on Share Kanazawa (English)
CEO of studio-L, Social entrepreneur, Community Designer, Professor and Director of the department of Spatial Design in the Kyoto University of Art and Design, Vice President in RIPS, NPO.
Yamazaki was born in Aichi in 1973. After university, he worked in SEN, inc., where he developed his skills and knowledge of landscape design as well as social organization and relationship management.
He founded studio-L in 2005 and has continuously offered innovative solutions to local problems by inspiring and leading local communities. He advocates the importance of “Community Design” which he defined as the empowerment of locals through design. His major projects contain planning workshops, making comprehensive plans, and designing buildings and landscape for revitalizing the local area.
His published books include Community Design(2011), Social Design Atlas(2012), The era of Community Design(2012), Happiness theory for the local area(2012).
ABOUT SHARE KANAZAWA
Share Kanazawa is a community located outside of Kanazawa, Japan where elderly people, college students, people with chronic illnesses, people with disabilities live communally. Together they have created a tight knit local community as they connect and build relationships while fostering independence and well-being.