"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." --- Howard Thurman

KIZUNA is a start-up concept for a membership-based community space in Tokyo dedicated to meaningful connection & inner development.

Our aim is to revitalize Tokyo's urban social fabric through establishing a new kind of environment designed for belonging, serendipity, and intellectual + emotional nourishment.

We're envisioning KIZUNA as a 'home away from home' that brings the best parts of college life to adulthood – a warm, welcoming place where you can work, rest, play, create, learn, or simply be, all while engaging with other interesting people.

Why create such a space? Because feeling a sense of belonging is a superpower, and we need more communal places where we can discover who we actually are, such that we can step into our aliveness and fully show up in the world.
Big picture problems

The concept for KIZUNA was born out of an awareness of a few broad issues pervading Japanese society:

1. Crisis in mental, social, and spiritual wellbeing

A global study by the McKinsey Health Institute ranked Japan last in terms of employee wellbeing. Tokyo workers in particular face a poverty of time – driven by long work days and long commutes – and are thus struggling to balance life, work, and play.


2. Friendship recession

Not dissimilar to other countries, in Japan it's harder than ever for adults to develop genuine connections, especially after graduating from university. Surveys indicate that a growing number of people report having no close friends.


3. Crisis in fostering meaningful interpersonal relationships

The Legatum Prosperity Index measures nations' overall well-being across various indicators. One indicator is Social Capital, which reflects the strength of personal and professional relationships within a society. Japan lags significantly in this metric, starkly ranking 141st out of 167 countries (pictured above). This is like a pernicious vitamin deficiency; a kind of social malnutrition that, though not immediately apparent, poses a long-term threat to Japan's societal fabric.


4. Loneliness epidemic

It is not news that sentiments of social isolation & loneliness are on the rise in Japan. These issues are multidimensional, and no doubt partly caused by an increase in remote work due to the pandemic. But the reality is quite clear: there's a high number of single-person households (which could rise to 40 percent of the population by 2040), and more people craving a sense of community than ever before.
Where can we genuinely connect with each other?

As an antidote to the above intersecting trends, we believe part of what is needed are more physical places in cities where we can meaningfully connect with others.

Most so-called 'third places' (i.e., spaces outside of home and the workplace/school where we can hang out) in urban contexts tend to be either too structured, or too superficial. 

As Patricia Mou puts it, "most of these [community spaces] fall into two categories: exclusive and narrowly focused, demanding specific identities, interests, or demographics for admission, or public spaces devoid of structured programming, where each encounter introduces us to new faces, leaving an aftertaste of shallowness."

We're positioning KIZUNA as a place in the middle ground – an environment balancing intentional structure that supports genuine connection, and freedom for members to choose their level of commitment.
What is KIZUNA?
In practice, KIZUNA would look like something at the intersection of a co-working/event space, college campus vibe, community living room, and social club.

It would be modular & multipurpose, featuring areas for work, play, & serendipitous connection: for e.g., quiet workspaces, lounges, a library, and event space to host a wide variety of salons, workshops, & lectures.

What would set it apart is intentionality – KIZUNA is not intended as just another work-oriented space, but a place for people seeking more meaningful relationships. You could engage with diverse people in a supportive container, even if you no longer have access to traditional institutions (like college) that typically facilitate such connections.
The vibe
This is an initial moodboard for the space itself – we are heavily inspired by the aesthetic & interior at The SF Commons, which itself took inspiration from the Juntos, Enlightenment Cafes, Philosophy Salons, Vienna Coffeehouses, and Asian teahouses of the past. We seek to bring the spirit of these spaces to urban Tokyo.
Inner Development focus
Central aspects of the KIZUNA experience are programs & events built around inner development. At this stage, we're considering structuring these offerings based off the Inner Development Goals (IDGs). 

The IDGs emerged out of a global movement of scholars and practitioners who contend that the sustainable development agenda will fail if we are not able to develop our inner capacities for change. In other words, there is increasing recognition that we have a lot of inner work to do in order to create socially-just, regenerative change 'out there' in the world.

Taking the IDGs framework as inspiration, KIZUNA will offer programs for both members and the public around inner development. These offerings will bring together diverse stakeholders to co-create experiences for intellectual-emotional-spiritual nourishment, designed to help you follow your curiosities & discover what brings you fully alive in a communal context.

More details on this to come!
Interested? Get in touch!
Right now, we're at the early stage building our core team, and hosting small gatherings at amazing venues around Tokyo. 

We're eager to connect with anyone interested in bringing this vision to life. If you are interesting in joining the team in some capacity, or just want to hear more, feel free to get in touch anytime on linkedin!
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