Ibasho presentation at the SXSW

Ibasho presentation at the SXSW

Emi Kiyota (Ibasho) and Jose Colucci (University of Texas) delivered a presentation “Fresh thinking on Old Age: Design for fulfillment” at the SXSW conference. The session was well received and generated many interesting questions from the audience. I hope our presentation challenged our current idea regarding the design for aging, and will stimulate the future discussion to make our society a better place for people of all ages!

Synopsis of the session:
For this session, José Colucci — an IDEO designer and aging specialist — partners with Emi Kiyota — an environmental gerontologist, cultural change expert and founder of Ibasho — to bring fresh thinking on old age. Our plan is to move away from generalities on aging (everybody knows about the graying of the world’s population, the increasing longevity of humans, the challenge of supporting people in retirement) to focus on solutions, insights and tools that will lead to innovation in policy, environments, services, digital interactions, and products for the aging population. Case studies from Ibasho’s work and IDEO’s portfolio on aging will suggest how.

Click below to view our presentation (pdf file)

Ibasho project in Nepal

Ibasho project in Nepal

Ibasho team has visited to Nepal in February, 2016, to launch our project with a social venture company, Bihani, founded by Santoshi Rana.

It all started with an email from Santoshi, asking us “Nepal needs the Ibasho concept. How can we adapt it here?” Since we did not have resources to kick started at that time, we have kept in touch to explore the possibility for almost one year. During this time, our passion did not disappeared, and we were finally able to visit Kathmandu to plan the Ibasho project together. What I have realized was that there were so much for us (from so called “developed parts of the world”) to learn from how Nepali communities were caring for elders. I felt that “Although we have a well established support system for elders, Nepali culture embraced so much more GENUINE LOVE, RESPECT and EMPATHY for elders.” Of course, we should not romanticize the lives of people in Nepal because they still face economical hardships, however, I felt as if we were trapped by the rigid regulations and policies we developed which is supposed to make our life safer and more comfortable. Because of our paternalistic approach of care system, we might have stripped sense of community and meaningful life from our everyday lives.

During this Nepal trip, a Nepali magazine interviewed us about our experience of the visit. The article was published in a magazine called “WOW.” You can read the article in the attached PDF document below. We are so delighted and grateful that our message was shared by the people in Nepal, and so look forward to developing Ibasho project with elders in Nepal!

Elders as agents of change

Challenging Ageism

Challenging Ageism

URA(Urban Redevelopment Authority) in Singapore has published an article about our Ibasho projects. I am so grateful to all who have been generously supporting and promoting Ibasho… It is our hope to work with more elders from various parts of the world, and learn from them…

Click here to read the article


Mobile Ibasho cafe trial: Philippines

Mobile Ibasho cafe trial: Philippines

A group of elders in Baragay Bagong Buhay organized a two weeks “mobile Ibasho cafe trial”. As we all expected, there were so many challenges and lessons to learn from this experience, however, they have generated profits and the trial was successful. Now, we know their strength and capacity as well as the limitation and challenges to improve. We are going ahead to move forward the Ibasho cafe idea together, so that elders will have a place where they can find opportunities to contribute to their community in Ormoc, Philippines.

There are so much “talk” and “think” about integration of elders into society and multi-generational interactions. Working with elders in Philippines and Japan, I learned that we should recognize the importance of “taking concrete actions within our capacities,” rather than trying to come up with a perfect plan by talking and thinking about it for a long time… A small trial like this taught us the importance of taking concrete action, regardless of how small the action could be.

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Ibasho Lecture in Singapore

Ibasho Lecture in Singapore



I had a great opportunity to share our Ibasho activities at the Creative Ageing Cities Symposium in Singapore. I was also able to learn from case studies and projects for aging were presented from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Singapore. I feel that our societal perception about aging is slowly shifting, as more younger people are joining for the discussion of aging.

I hope that Ibasho can continue to encourage elders and lead the way to create a stronger communities for people of all ages.



It is not about luxury. It is about the meaning of life…

I was invited to “Aging 2.0 Washington DC” to describe about our effort in relation to the Intergenerational activities. Below is my brief talk. I hope our society will realize that “what makes people happy is not about the luxury but the meaningful life and relationships…”

Before sharing what we do and why we do our work, I would like to share a quote that I found in an elementary school in Bhutan.

“The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, the way to be happy is to make other people happy.”

Everybody wants to be useful to others, regardless of their age. And nobody wants to be socially isolated, or feeling the sense of helpless or useless.

Ibasho strives to create socially integrated and sustainable communities that value their elders. How do we do that? We partner with local organizations and communities to create a place where elders find the opportunities to contribute to their community members of all ages. We empower and include elders to design, built, and operate the place we create together where elders take leadership role to connect community members and to transfer knowledge and experience to younger generations.

The Ibasho cafe we have created with elders in Japan has been operated by the group of elders in a self-sustainable manner, and just cerebrated for the 2nd year anniversary. The elders in the community organized 330 events and welcomed 11,000. This is a community driven initiative, and owned by the not for profit organization created by local elders. They operate this place in a self-sustainable manner- they earn income through serving tea and snack, organic garden, farmers’ market, small noodle shop, and writing grants.

Filipino elders are also working on developing the Ibasho project, and have started recycling project, vegetable garden. They and now planning on creating Ibasho mobile café to feed children who cannot afford lunch. Through these activities, they are teaching younger generations to clean up the community, growing vegetable, and eating healthy foods leading by example. It is incredible to see what elders can do and how proud they are by what they have accomplished to influence on the younger generations.

As our society grow older, we are challenged to answer the two major global issues: how to provide care for growing number of elders with limited human and financial resources. How can we minimize the vulnerability of elders at the time of natural disaster?

To answer these questions, we should challenge our social perception about aging and the role of elders. We should remind ourselves that we should include elders as part of the solution, and let the elders lead us to strengthen our community resilience by reconnecting the community members of all ages.

Cross-cultural friendships among elders… continues!

“I have learned that we have something we can do to help people in the Philippines. I always thought that helping people in other countries was beyond what we could do. But we don’t have to be in United Nations or international organizations to make difference. We received so much help from others. It is our turn to do something for the people in the Philippines. There is a lot I want to do with them and to learn from them. I hope we can help each other for a long time.” – 74 year old man from Ofunato, Japan

Upon learning that the Ibasho concept was being replicated in the Philippines, several of the Japanese elders expressed an interest in supporting the project. They traveled to the Philippines to help local elders set up an Ibasho café in an area affected by Typhoon Haiyan in January 2015. After returning to Japan, they created a disaster-recovery fund and reached out to their community members to help people in the disaster-affected area in Philippines. Ibasho was also able to manage for Filipino elders to visit Ibasho project in Japan in March 2015 to learn from their experience of operating Ibasho cafe. Through this peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, they have formed cross-cultural friendship and support network among elders who care about their community.

Elders from Philippines created this short video clip to show their appreciation to the Japanese elders in Ibasho Cafe. I am sure that this will bring a joy and smile to the Japanese elders…

We are hoping to create a “Ibasho cafe Philippines.” I hope more people will support this initiative! Click here to support Ibasho projects.

(Peer to peer knowledge exchange program was funded by the World Bank – GFDRR)

Elders in Ormoc, Philippines are leading community resilience

Elders in Ormoc, Philippines are leading community resilience

In April, 2014, five months after the typhoon Yolanda alit in the Philippines, Ibasho teams and HelpAge-COSE members visited five communities affected by the typhoon, including Barangay Bagong Buhay. The visitors helped assess the communities’ needs and exchanged ideas with local elders about how Ibasho can help elders to develop their livelihood projects that also benefit younger members of community.

Ibasho team chose Barangay Bagong Buhay as the site for an Ibasho project in October 2014 and organized a launching workshop with a group of local elders in January 2015. Since then, elders in Barangay Bagong Buhay have made tremendous progress, with the help of a local Ibasho coordinator, a minimal investment from Ibasho.org, and a donation from the Japanese elders in Ibasho House in Ofunato, Japan. Their efforts have strengthen the social ties of elders in the community, and enhanced visibility of their effort and its positive impacts on making their community a better place by harnessing the elders’ skills and experience to help mend a community traumatized by a natural disaster. The group of elders is slowly changing the perception about the role of elders in the Barangay Bagong Buhay.

Please click here for the progress report of the Ibasho project in Ormoc, Philippines!

January 8 and 9: Japanese elders to Philippines for Ibasho project launch and vision workshop

  • Two elders from Ibasho House traveled with the Ibasho team to help establish the Ibasho project in Philippines
  • Elders in Philippines decided to work together on three projects—recycling, a vegetable garden, and a mobile Ibasho café—before starting to plan for an Ibasho café.

January 10: Ibasho local coordinator appointed

  • Ian Parrucho moved from Cebu to Ormoc to lead the Ibasho project with local elders.

February: Recycling project started

  • elders collect plastic bottles from all the houses in the barangay bi-weekly

March 13-18: Filipino elders to Japan

  • Two Filipino elders and Ian Paruccho visited Ibasho House in Ofunato, Japan
  • 2 elders from Philippines and 4 from Ibasho House in Japan participated as invited panelists at the World Bank and at an Ibasho joint session at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan.
  • Japanese elders donated $300USD to Ibasho Philippine project.

April 27: Vegetable garden site identified

  • Elders negotiated with a landowner to use property free of charge to grow vegetables

May 7: Vegetable garden project launched

  • Elders cleared the vegetable garden area and planted seeds

June 1: Water piping set up at garden

June 31st: Vegetable garden for the school children

  • Elders coordinated with school and taught children how to grow and harvest vegetables. A school children’s garden was launched at the Ibasho vegetable garden.
  • Elders cooked healthy meals for children as a part of nutrition month activity in Philippines.

Next steps

  • Expand the recycling project to cover a wider geographic area and to recycle more materials
  • Create arts and crafts with children using recycled materials
  • Improve the vegetable garden’s soil
  • Sell vegetables to community members
  • Organize a picnic for community members, especially for children
  • Create a space for school children to grow vegetable
  • Start designing a mobile Ibasho café
  • Get a site for a future Ibasho café donated by the city of Ormoc

Please support us to make the elders’ dream into reality.

Ibasho in Japan celebrated 2-year anniversary

Ibasho in Japan celebrated 2-year anniversary

In 2011, over 18,000 people were killed and more than 65,000 people were displaced when a massive earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan. Entire communities were devastated, but among the survivors, both older and young spoke of elders who saved younger people’s lives by guiding them to higher ground and teaching them how to survive with extremely limited resources. In turn, older people expressed a great deal of gratitude for the aid they received. Many people of all ages wanted to give back and be useful to others but did not know how.

The Ibasho cafe project was initiated in February 2012, and many volunteer experts from around the world worked tirelessly with community elders to bring this project to reality in June 2013. The result: a place where the entire community can gather and work together toward recovery. It is a place where elders take a leadership role and serve their entire community, strengthening bonds and building resilience.

Ibasho House celebrate their 2-year anniversary in June, 2015. Please read the progress report at Ibasho in Japan_2015

The accomplishments of community elders exceeded our expectations, and we are so proud of their contributions to our society:

  • Elders organized 330 events and welcomed more than 11,000 visitors
  • Intergenerational activities with local schools and temporary housing communities
  • To make their operation self sustainable, elders started an organic farm, a farmer’s market, a noodle shop, and a child day care, and learned to apply for grants proposals
  • Travel to Philippines to help setting up Ibasho project, and donated funds collected by elders in Ofunato.
  • Peer to Peer knowledge exchange program: Invited Filipino elders to Ibasho House in Ofunato
  • Elders from Ibasho participated in the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.
  • Media coverage: 6 lectures in international conference. Reports and articles published in: AARP, The World Bank, LeadingAge, RedCross, NHK, and Bloomberg.

Ibasho sincerely thanks Honeywell Hometown Solutions, Operation USA, Tenjin-kai, the City of Ofunato, Hokkaido University, Ito-gumi and other individuals for supporting this project. From Ibasho and elders in Massaki, we would like to extend our sincere appreciations to Dr. Yasuhiro Tanaka for the local support.  


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Ibasho’s documentary film: Elders leading resilience

Ibasho’s documentary film: Elders leading resilience

Please watch the documentary film that captured the ways in which elders led inclusive community resiliency. This film was created with the generous support from the GFDRR (The World Bank).

This documentary shows how community elders were empowered to help the community recover after the great earthquake in Ofunato, Japan in 2011. It assesses the experience of the Ibasho approach on post-disaster recovery and strengthening social capital.

This film aims to capture the strength, wisdom, and humanity of elders, which will challenge our current social perception about aging and the role of elders.

Although this film focused on the recovery from the natural disasters, we should have this type of program and environment before the disasters to occur so that we will be better prepared for the another slowly approaching (potential) disaster called “global aging”….if we are not prepared.