The first Ibasho Café was developed in Ofunato, a city in Iwate prefecture that was devastated by the GEJE. The project objective was to help strengthen the social capital needed to recover from the disaster, giving community members of all ages a place where they can develop more and deeper connections with each other. Since the café was completed in June 2013, all generations have connected in the space, with children coming to read books in the English library, older people teaching young people, younger people helping elders navigate technology, and so on. In the first year, elders organized approximately 70 events and welcomed more than 5,500 visitors.
This study focuses on the effects of the Ibasho Café on social capital in the city and neighborhoods of Ofunato after fthe Great East Japan Earthquake. The study used both quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate the effect of the Ibasho Café on the level of social capital among community members, its impact on the community’s perception of the recovery process, and the general well-being of community members. Quantitative data was gathered through semi-structured surveys conducted in 2013 before the café began operation, and in the fall of 2014 after a year of operation. Participant observation conducted with ethnographical methods over the course of a year captured the qualitative data, recording the experiences of Ibasho Café users and staff members.