“A place where one feels at home.”
Operation USA has focused its long-term recovery efforts following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated large portions of Japan on a community project in Ofunato, a coastal city located in Iwate Prefecture. Once a vibrant fishing community, Ofunato was badly impacted by the tsunami. Provisional counts listed 3,498 houses out of 15,138 houses in the town destroyed by the tsunami and 305 lives were confirmed lost.
Operation USA built the Honeywell Ibasho House in partnership with Honeywell Hometown Solutions. The project concept was developed by noted gerontology specialist Dr. Emi Kiyota of Ibasho.org, an organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of Elders. Tenjin-kai, a social welfare foundation led by Dr. Yukimi Uchide was also integral to the project.
Opened June 2013, the Honeywell Ibasho House was designed by Professor Suguru Mori with the Laboratory of Architecture and Planning at Hokkaido University, using contemporary and sustainable building methods that can withstand future earthquakes.
The project’s goal is to create a gathering place where the Elders of Ofunato can come to find their “Ibasho”, roughly translated as “a place where one feels at home”. In the Honeywell Ibasho House, elders are respected as assets to the community and a vital source of wisdom. Drinks and snacks are available in the café, and are served by older members of the community. Encouraging cross-generational engagement aids seniors to re-develop personal resilience that may have been lost in the transition following the disaster—and to regain a place of comfort, respect and strength within their own community.
Read more about the June 2013 opening here.