Alex Hutchins: Bazaar Cafe

I have enjoyed volunteering at Bazaar Cafe on Friday afternoons for many more reasons other than my love of doing dishes. This is to say that I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet people in Japan who embody narratives outside of the societal norm — who break down oft-repeated monolithic statements about Japan’s cultural homogeneity. Granted, I came into this experience with a certain level of background knowledge surrounding Japan’s cultural diversity, but it is another thing in its entirety to meet and speak with people who have had those experiences. I have witnessed a group of people — there are a wonderful volunteers at Bazaar Cafe –who are dedicated to ensuring that Kyoto welcomes ALL people regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. I did a lot of dishes at Bazaar, but I was also able to do a lot of thinking — and I think it is because of the people I met here at my CIP that have made me realize that Kyoto is a place that I will definitely be returning to. Recently the cafe hosted its annual event at the end of November celebrating inclusivity and featuring food and goods from organizations representing groups from places such as Okinawa, Syria, Korea, and so on. This demonstration of community, aside from Kyoto’s physical beauty, has made the main hours of washing and drying worth it, and makes me excited for my future efforts to go to graduate school in this city. For me, Bazaar Cafe made Kyoto “home.”


2 thoughts on “Alex Hutchins: Bazaar Cafe

  1. It’s wonderful that you were able to find a place where people of all different backgrounds could feel comfortable, including yourself. Do you know how places like these were founded? What types of hardships might minorities face in Japan compared to in the U.S.?

    • Lisa,

      Hello! Thanks for asking. Regarding Bazaar Cafe in particular, it was founded by a Christian group in Kyoto in 1998, though now I do not believe that it has kept this affiliation. It seems like a lot of grassroots action comes from university campuses, from both students and faculty, as well as from individuals who wanted to help people in similar situations as theirs, or who witnesses other people not have access to the resources and support that they need.

      I would say that life for minorities in Japan differ depending on their racial and linguistic background. While white people in Japan are a minority, they comparatively receive less discrimination. I think that in both the U.S. and Japan, more needs to be done to help those in dangerous situations and ensure that there is more regulations put on workplaces.