About Us Activity Publications Inquiries & Access


Inter-University Event: Learning about International Cooperation Volunteers (Part 2)


Souvenir pens

Visit to the Coffee Time

Coffee Time is a non-profit organization that started in 2006 in the town of Namie, Futaba District, Fukushima Prefecture, as a small-scale workplace inspired by the idea that it would be good for people with disabilities to have a place where they could gather every day and earn some money by running a coffee shop. Today, it is a Type B Support for Continuous Employment facility that supports the independence and social participation of people with disabilities through work and other activities.*1

After the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear power station disaster of March 11, 2011, the whole of Namie was declared an evacuation zone and Coffee Time, which was located just 13 km from the power station, had to relocate to its present premises in Nihonmatsu. The area where the original shop is located is still considered dangerous and entry is restricted. All the staff and people with disabilities who use the shop experienced numerous moves from one evacuation center to another and now live in temporary housing or private accommodation rented for people displaced by the disaster. Apparently several of the staff and users moved away from Fukushima Prefecture.

The café is located inside the Nihonmatsu City Citizen Exchange Center. As well as operating as a coffee shop it also sells crafts and souvenirs produced in Fukushima Prefecture on a commission basis. Around a dozen of the facility’s users were at work when we visited the premises in the Kanairo district of Nihonmatsu City, finishing and packing up “Souvenir pens” decorated with colorful Saori threads, and packaging bottles of sauce for the local Namie fried noodles. Sometimes they also make boxes for polvorón cookies, which 12 workplaces in Fukushima Prefecture cooperate to produce and sell together.

The team at the Coffee Time

Director Yuriko Hashimoto said she was inspired to start the group when she participated in a volunteer training course at the Namie Public Health Center. She now lives in Nihonmatsu apart from her family for work. She says that many people have prejudices about the people with mental disabilities who work in the café and workshop, and says she wants to spread the message that many people with mental disabilities are often very kind and friendly people.

※1 A facility that provides support for continuing employment under the current Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities Act. These facilities provide opportunities for employment to people whose disabilities would make it difficult for them to work on normal contracts at regular companies, giving them opportunities to produce things, and providing training and support to allow them to develop the knowledge and skills they need. More information on Japan’s policies on people with disabilities is available on the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website.

  • このエントリーをはてなブックマークに追加