My experience at HUB Kyoto has changed my perception of the Japanese community. Having resided in Japan for nearly an academic year, I have gotten accustomed to seeing the intense lifestyle that comes with being a salaryman, usually consisting of people in suits running to and fro within a train station. I have gotten used to the silence that comes with a long train ride that accompanies a slew of people looking down at the floor so that they do not catch anybody else’s eyes. I have even gotten used to the indirect behavior that is the norm here when speaking to just about anyone in society. Although slight variations of these circumstances are present in any situation, HUB Kyoto’s atmosphere provides an excellent foil to the Japanese standard in which the workers there, still maintaining diligence in their work, manage to maintain the relaxed environment that welcomes the fresh new ideas of others. In a society where the nail that sticks out gets hammered down, having a special area in which anyone can enter and present to their community an original idea they have that they think might benefit others stands out so much to me. Such an experience was evident in the Dojo for Change, where although a speaker was presenting this wildly abstract idea to an audience, the audience indulged in the new idea and even had some discussion afterwards. Even in regular work days, which was every Wednesday from around 1:30 to 5, people such as elderly ladies and young men in suits would crowd around the center table at HUB and discuss new ideas, things they had going on, and of course trivial matters such as the weather. The fact that HUB attracted so many different kinds of people, however, is what amazed me most, and I felt pretty lucky to experience it for myself.
Although the ambience and people were always good, the wish would have changed my weekly tasks. Although it was interesting inputting Japanese business card data into a database, as well as draw out layouts of events for the sake of determining better seating arrangements, I felt like I could have done something more. I am not saying I did not like HUB, because I certainly did, it’s just that after a few weeks, I would hear about my classmates and their own CIP projects consisting of playing instruments and going to an art gallery. In other words, my position at HUB was certainly more “behind the scenes” in which I had to do something relatable to office work, whereas I would keep hearing about hobby-like activities that I would have preferred doing. However, from the beginning of the semester, I really wanted to do an activity I could put on my resume, and I do feel like I accomplished that objective. Though I have no true regrets, I would not have minded a little something extra.
HUB Kyoto, from its large theatre room to its large bamboo garden to the kotatsu upstairs, is a unique place. The people that go there are those that believe they can make a change, no matter how big or small. Whether you want to establish a gift-giving economy and write a book about it, or simply want to help set up for events, HUB Kyoto can fit just about anyone’s dreams. Keep in mind, this is not the only HUB in the world; HUB Singapore, Amsterdam, and San Francisco just to name a few, are ongoing projects to this day that continue to work on making communities bright and clean for its people. I am glad I got to see this part of Japan. It gave me a new kind of hope for the younger Japanese generations.