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Social-Equality in Business Design at Ichiboshi-Do

Despite the government claims that gender equality is a key aspect of Japan’s economic success, women in Japan are still struggling to find a work-life balance. Most mothers bear the sole responsibility of day to day raising of children, yet traditional working hours do not allow them enough time to raise a family. An entrepreneur has taken aim at addressing this issue by launching a working facility in Shizuoka called Ichiboshi-do which is an innovative multi-function facility offering child-care, flexible working-style office as well as lodging facilities. It is hoped that Ichiboshi-do can become a model for similar facilities across Japan.

Entrepreneur founder of Ichiboshi-do, Kitagawa, explained at an introductory event to the facility, that he wanted to create a business that would support an underutilized labor force in Japan: working-women. Kitagawa pointed out that a lack of flexible work time, as well as daycare, were key issues he wanted to address as a part of creating a successful new business. He based the facility in Shizuoka in order to create an innovative business model somewhere outside of Tokyo. Innovation and entrepreneurship rarely evolve outside of Japan’s capital he says, yet a base in beautiful Shizuoka can promote a healthier work-life balance amid beautiful natural surroundings and pristine natural resources.
The facility has a modern design with a comforting atmosphere thanks to the abundance of natural light from the large windows, open-air spaces and natural wood used throughout the facility. The ground floor will operate as a daycare, the 2nd floor a collaborative workspace and the upper floors for living and relaxation.

On the work floor, the middle area is open which makes it perfectly suited as a multi-purpose space, including collaborative work and networking. Seminars, parties and training sessions can be held on this floor. The open kitchen can function as an extension of the water-cooler-concept which brings people together to interact away from their desks. Encouraging casual interactions such as this can lead to more positive networking and collaboration. For meetings, or more focused discussions and projects, there are private rooms off to the side of the main room. This facility offers working women the whole-package, a safe place to work, take care of her kids, collaborate with others and even comfortable lodging while she pursues a rewarding career.

Photo by Takeo Kouyama
Set to open in April, 2019 there is great potential for success at Ichiboshido to not only support the workers who utilize the facility but also will have a positive effect on the surrounding community. The workspace allows for self-created, more flexible, work hours and collaborative opportunities- especially focused on supporting working women. This will have a positive knock-on effect of the women working here being able to better support their children, giving these kids a brighter future.

Shizuoka is a great location for this type of facility. Not only to attract talent outside of Tokyo to a quieter, more beautiful working environment but also to create a forward-thinking innovative work concept outside of the capital.

There are many possibilities at this location to benefit from rich natural resources while meeting the needs of the local community. While standing on the open roof space, we heard about the regular fireworks held in summer at night and views of Mt.Fuji during the day. There is a lot of potential for success here which makes me realize how well Kitagawa-san and his team have chosen not only the building’s function but its role in society, the beautiful location, as well as the stylish yet comfortable design of this business.

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