Erika Abiko, Community Peace Builder

Owner and social entrepreneur Erika Abiko has created many successful community-building networks from her base at Hachidorisha (Hummingbird) Cafe.

Abiko’s Social Book Cafe Hachidorisha is far from a typical city-center business as it is host to many community projects, events, and peace-focused activities. As a successful female social-entrepreneur Erika credits being able to build her business to the great foundations of friendship, positive relationships and a focus on international peace issues she found here. As such a key figure in the Hiroshima community, it’s a surprise to hear that she didn’t grow up in Hiroshima. She says the reason she made Hiroshima home was because she felt the strongest connection to the people here.

Like Robin Lewis who started the MyMizu project, Erika began her career working with Japan’s Peace Boat non-profit. She worked with PeaceBoat for years, but once they moved offices out of Hiroshima she was at a crossroads and had to choose to move away or start something new on her own. She told me it was a hard decision, but decided to come back to Hiroshima and open a community-building business thanks to the encouragement of the amazing people in her local network here. She was particularly inspired and encouraged by local peace activist Steven Leeper and Jumpei Hirao of Hiroshima-jin Daigaku NPO. Their encouragement helped her open the Hachidorisha Cafe.

Hachidorisha means ‘hummingbird house’ which is a great description of Erika’s busy cafe where there is always something happening.

Celebrating Diversity

One word which describes Hachidorisha is diversity. There are so many different activities and events at Hachidorisha it is hard to categorize, but one of the key missions of the business is to support all members of society in some way. Every month, the Hachidorisha tree on the wall is filled with event details like social gatherings, talks, films and other events that are inclusive to all and celebrate diversity in our community.

Innovative Event Creation

Events that create more value for local residents, called social equity, are a passion of Erika’s and events held at Hachidorisha often have an inclusive theme- reaching out to include those who are disenfranchised.

Some events she is passionate about are the LGBTQ+ Sexual-Minority Bar where people who identify themselves in their own way are listened to and are able to talk with one another freely. Or the Bozu-bar where local Buddhist monks are special guests who enjoy having a drink with members of the community who may want to ask questions about religion and ponder the meaning of life. There’s even a Nurse-bar where you can mix and mingle with medical staff with the added perk of getting your blood pressure checked.

Most events are free with the understanding that everyone should order at least one drink or an on-the-door fee of 1,500 yen which includes a drink. It’s so appealing to find a venue like Hachidorisha which has regular events for such a diverse group of people in the community. Erika hopes Hachidorisha is a place where everyone can feel welcome.

Abiko has a great “Can-Do” mentality reflected in her flexibility to try new things. For example, she is regularly contacted by international groups traveling to Japan who want to have a chance to share their peace initiative, environmental activism, social movement, or are looking for a venue to premiere a peace-related film or documentary. She tries to accommodate and support any people in Japan and around the world who are working toward the common good.

The Hachidorisha Cafe started with a sustainability focus, not only for its community-building but also for its focus on waste-reduction, promoting local products and reusable containers and utensils. The shop’s design, reusing and remodeling an old office building, is also more sustainable than a typical new build.

Hachidorisha was built out of a typical, uninspired Showa office space- transformed into a warm, welcoming space that makes visitors feel relaxed. The central raised platform works as a stage for talks, films and other events and during cafe hours as a Japanese style seating area.

Support of Local Artists
Hachidorisha has a variety of locally handcrafted products for sale as well as regularly hosts craft workshops and other environmentally-friendly activities. If you are interested, it is worth following the Hachidorisha Facebook page (in Japanese, but FB translations help) for the latest updates on all that is happening there.

Peace Building
Abiko-san has been a key member of many other peace-related projects in Hiroshima such as the Kids Art Project NOW, and the Look-Up Art Action event.

At Hachidorisha on the 6th, 16th, 26th of each month, visitors and residents are welcome to sit and talk with Hibakusha A-bomb survivors in English and Japanese. This is a fantastic opportunity to make a personal connection with local people who are an essential part of Hiroshima’s living heritage. I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with Kazuhiko Futagawa at this wonderful peace-building Hachidorisha event.

Preserving Hiroshima’s Heritage
Abiko-san is an active supporter of the campaigners who are trying to preserve the A-bombed warehouses in Hiroshima’s Deshio area.

Erika Abiko’s passion and perseverance to making a successful business that does so much social good is a true inspiration. We need more places like Hachidorisha and more entrepreneurs like Abiko-san in Japan.

+ Read more about Hachidorisha Social Book Cafe on GetHiroshima.

jjwalsh

Writing about Hiroshima for over twenty years. Co-founded GetHiroshima in 1999 and founded the sustainability-focused InboundAmbassador business in 2019. Monthly CleanUp and Seeking Sustainability event organizer, guide workshop facilitator, online content creator and tourism destination consultant. Passionate about promoting solutions in Japan for people and the planet.

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