Owner and social entrepreneur Erika Abiko has created many successful community-building networks from her base at the Hachidorisha (Hummingbird) Cafe.
Social Book Cafe Hachidorisha is far from a typical business as it is involved in many projects, events, and activities. Founding owner Erika Abiko is a female entrepreneur whose success may derive from international travel and her work with international organizations. She is not originally from Hiroshima, but after living in various cities in Japan and worldwide says she felt the strongest connection to the people in Hiroshima’s community.
Like Robin Lewis who started the MyMizu project, Erika began her career working with Japan’s Peace Boat non-profit. She worked with PeaceBoat for years, but once they moved offices out of Hiroshima she was at a crossroads and had to choose to move away or start something new on her own. She told me it was a hard decision, but decided to come back to Hiroshima and open a community-building business thanks to the encouragement of the amazing people in her local network here.
Erika says when she was starting the business she had so much help and support from the local community. She was particularly inspired and encouraged by local peace activist Steven Leeper and Jumpei Hirao of Hiroshima-jin Daigaku NPO. Their encouragement helped her open the Hachidorisha Cafe.
Hachidorisha means ‘hummingbird house’ which is a great description of Erika’s busy cafe where there is always something happening.
If one word could describe the role of Hachidorisha, it would be diversity. There are so many different activities and events at Hachidorisha it is hard to categorize, but one of the key missions of the business is to support all members of society in some way. Every month, the Hachidorisha tree on the wall is filled with event details like social gatherings, talks, films and other events that promote inclusion.
Innovative Inclusion Community Building
Events that create more value for local residents, called social equity, are a passion of Erika’s and events held at Hachidorisha often have an inclusive theme- reaching out to include those who are disenfranchised.
Innovative events such as the LGBTQ+ Sexual-Minority Bar, or the Bozu-bar where you can talk with local Buddhist monks while having a drink and ponder the meaning of life. There’s also a Nurse-bar where you can have a drink with the perk of a medical consult and have your blood pressure checked. The only entry fees to these events are the understanding that everyone should order at least one drink. It’s so appealing to find a venue like Hachidorisha which has regular events for diverse groups in the community who feel welcome to come and talk in a safe, accepting place.
Abiko has a great “Can-Do” mentality reflected in her flexibility to try new things. For example, she is regularly contacted by international groups traveling to Japan who want to have a chance to share their peace initiative, environmental activism, social movement, or their documentary. She tries to accommodate and support any people or groups working toward the common good.
The Hachidorisha Cafe started with a sustainability focus, not only for its community-building but also for its focus on waste-reduction, promoting local products and reusable containers and utensils. The shop’s design, reusing and remodeling an old office building, is also more sustainable than a typical new build.
Hachidorisha was built out of a typical, uninspired Showa office space- transformed into a warm, welcoming space that makes visitors feel relaxed. The central raised platform works as a stage for talks, films and other events and during cafe hours as a Japanese style seating area.
Support of Local Artists
Hachidorisha has a variety of locally handcrafted products for sale as well as regularly hosts craft workshops and other environmentally-friendly activities. If you are interested, it is worth following the Hachidorisha Facebook page (in Japanese, but FB translations help) for the latest updates on all that is happening there.
Also, on the 6th, 16th, 26th of each month, visitors and residents are welcome to sit and talk with Hibakusha A-bomb survivors in English and Japanese. This is a fantastic opportunity to make a personal connection with local people who are an essential part of Hiroshima’s living heritage. I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with Kazuhiko Futagawa at this wonderful peace-building Hachidorisha event.
Preserving Hiroshima’s Heritage
Connected to both peace and community issues, Abiko-san is also an active supporter of the group trying to preserve the A-bombed warehouses in Hiroshima’s Deshio area.
Erika Abiko’s passion and perseverance to making a successful business that does so much social good is a true inspiration. We need more places like Hachidorisha and more entrepreneurs like Abiko-san in Japan.
Read more about Hachidorisha Social Book Cafe on GetHiroshima.