Livening up the town with everyone, through talking and attending
– The name of the group is unique and unusual. What kind of group is “Ikasu Ohata Kadaru Group”?
It all started in 2011. When I returned my hometown from Tokyo, the region was losing population, the shopping street was run down and the whole town looked lifeless. Since I was in advertising in Tokyo, I thought I could do something to make younger generations feel proud of their hometown. So next year I organized the volunteer group called “Ikasu Ohata Kadaru Group ” with my friends to liven up out town.
– What kind of activities are you doing?
We run the community café called ”Yagen Onsen Café Kadar” by renovating a vacant store.
The store used to be a bar serving Oden dishes, which was the space for interaction in the community. The members came up with an idea, and said “Why don’t we run a café in here?” and the café was opened as an interaction space. The café has a space for the exhibition sale of works, and a footbath with Yagen hot spring water. Local people are coming to enjoy some coffee, and tourists join the conversation and they are having a good time together. I believe the café is now more than just a place to eat and drink.
This is where you can live naturally, in natural way
– It’s always nice having a place for interaction where you can visit anytime. Is there anything else you’ve done so far?
In 2015, Yagen Hot Spring marks the 400th anniversary. As celebrations in advance, we’ve held “Minakada Festival” since 2013. The program is a fusion of local traditional performing arts, artworks and music, using a naturally enclosed are located next to the café. Having children participate the local traditional performing arts, enjoying the big sound of music and the stage lighting… when I received a feedback such as “Nowhere else will have a festival like this.”, I realized this is the charm and the generosity of Ohata. Participants of the festival are getting larger every year and almost all the residents of one district came to join it. The festival was held by only Kadaru Group at first, but now I feel it is shifting to be the festival of the whole town.
A lady who shouted out “Yagen is the best!” during the festival is now working with us as a staff. She can suggest the promotion from a housewife’s point of view. When people with different fields and status get together, it generates synergy and we are increasing our activities.
– The festival is becoming more attractive with the charm of “Ohata”. Can you tell us what’s coming next?
As Aomori has a Jomon history, Aomori is the place people can live naturally in a natural way. There are many people in Ohata who enjoy firewood chopping and fishing. Through the activities of Kadaru Group, we’d like liven up Ohata, and take back our pride to live in Ohata.