【Report】HafH Diversity in Residence Project Vol.2
This month’s report is on address hopper & freelance chef Naoko Hayashi as she travels around Japan staying at, and creating fun events at, locations within the HafH Network!
Our Diversity in Residence project, is about creating just that; a new way of living to fit a new era!
Vol 2 of this project is about address hopper and freelance chef Naoko Hayashi (Nao/ Nao-chan) as she becomes a HafH Neighbour (HafH member) and travels around Japan for 2 months staying at locations in the HafH Network. Now one month into the project, I’d like to report on what’s been going on so far and what I’ve come to see from this project.
The first event, held at HafH Nagasaki SAI, actually took place on the first day of the new Reiwa era in Japan (May 1, 2019)! More than 20 people showed up for the event, with returning customers, first-timers, assistant language teachers and business owners etc. joining in.
Before digging in, Nao-chan explained the wonderful creations she’d put together for the nights menu! Suiting the project’s “new lifestyle” and “diversity” message to a tee, world traveller Nao-chan prepared an international menu for us!
As everyone was starting to feel a good buzz from their drinks, the previous owner of the building that is now HafH Nagasaki SAI (currently the owner of Susquehanna, a select shop next door) rushed in to liven things up further! Thanks for coming!
Furthermore, the manager of a nearby sports shop brought along some customers who had previously thought HafH Nagasaki SAI looked too trendy and were too shy to just casually drop in on their own.
Thanks to Chef Nao-chan’s cooking event, not only did we manage to gather a good number of wonderful people, but we were also able to create an even more welcoming space at HafH Nagasaki SAI!
The second event took place at HafH Nagasaki’s second location, the newly opened HafH Nagasaki Garden. As the perfect opportunity to introduce HafH Nagasaki Garden to the neighbouring locals, we held a fully catered open day! Live-in manager Yasu kicked things off with a greeting and a tour of the facility.
After freely walking around HafH Nagasaki Garden, participants sat in and around the coworking space and out in the garden to enjoy the feast that Nao-chan had put together. To add to the fun, Nao-chan’s friends from Sasebo City and Saga Prefecture brought a portable pizza oven and made pizzas for everyone out in the garden space.
The previous owner of the residence that is now HafH Nagasaki Garden joined in on the day, and was delighted to see that it has become a place where locals and address hoppers like Chef Nao-chan could interact and connect with each other.
The last of Nao-chan’s events in Nagasaki was held at Nagasaki House Burabura.
Part of the HafH Network and located at Mogi Port, Nagasaki House Burabura sits on Tachibana Bay with views of Unzen and Amakusa visible across the sea.
On this day, several event participants and Burabura’s housekeepers (including one girl originally from Taiwan!) helped prepare the food while learning a few cooking techniques from Nao-chan.
And, one hour later, the evening’s feast was ready to be served! All the food looked amazing!
By the way, the menu for the evening included generous amounts of fresh seafood bought directly from the local fisherman in Mogi Port.
Then it was time for the dinner feast everyone had been hanging out for! As it was right in the middle of Golden Week (a week in Japan consisting of several public holidays), families staying at the guesthouse, Mogi Port locals and Burabura’s housekeepers/helpers who are from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Saga Prefecture joined in for the event. We had a great turnout for the evening, with 30 people in all attending. Here’s a snapshot of a very memorable Golden Week night! To the owner of Burabura, Oshima, and all the staff, thank you so much for having us and for all your support!
In all, 70 people attended the 3 events in Nagasaki during Golden Week.
After promising to come back to visit again, Nao-chan then drove to the next venue, Hiroshima. In fact, Nao-chan had held a foodie event on Shodoshima Island in the Seto Inland Sea before driving her beloved Suzuki Jimny 600km to Nagasaki! This time, she had a slightly shorter drive of 400km to Hiroshima.
Travelling as you work actually requires physical strength and of course transportation costs are still involved too! While embracing and supporting this new lifestyle, HafH is also working on tackling the new issues that address hoppers, digital nomads and all those travelling as they work face. For example, as the number of HafH Neighbours increase, this travel time could be shared with a fellow HafH Neighbour, creating a new way to make connections in the process. Thinking about it, the possibilities are endless!
Nao-chan was actually born in Hiroshima!
The venue here took place at the (currently) only guesthouse in Hiroshima Prefecture, Hostel En (En meaning a destined connection/ a chance meeting).
In fact, En is famous among Hiroshima locals, and even more famous is the owner, Kou! The staff at En helped Nao-chan create a grand occasion for her big return visit to her hometown.
For the first time since starting her HafH adventure, Nao-chan’s event was completely booked out! People of all different ages and occupations joined in, including Prefectural Tourism Board personnel, community revival coop members from Etajima and Ninoshima Islands, lemon farmers from Osakishimo Island, university staff and students, an IT company president, and even Nao-chan’s old school friends.
Fitting in very well with Hostel En’s name, many connections and new meetings were made, all thanks to the delicious food that Nao-chan carefully put together!
The last location for Diversity in Residence Vol 2 for the month of May was Kyoto.
This time we had a collab event between Nao-chan and Mr Sakaune, the owner of Kyoto’s famous Nakaune Sake Store.
As Mr Sakaune is also a diver, he likes to submerse his sake under the ocean to mature it! He’s even created outlandish events like a pop-up bar on the platform of Nakanoshima Station on the Keihan Line, making him well-known in Kyoto!
Not just Kyoto locals, but also people from neighbouring Osaka and Shiga Prefecture came along to toast to the new Reiwa era with Japanese sake! The participant from Shiga Prefecture brought along some funazushi, a local specialty from that region, to share with everyone too!
Chef Nao-chan was blown away by the treat and declared she wanted to spread Funazushi around the world!
From Nagasaki → Hiroshima → Kyoto, the foodie tour finally made it to Tokyo!
The first of the Nao-chan’s cooking events in eastern Japan took place on June 1st at bar Rakudaba! (Rakuda means camel in Japanese! Apparently, the owner of the bar was often told that he had the face of a camel!)
The owner of Rakudaba, originally from the Kansai area of Japan, had never heard of a travelling chef and was very intrigued by the idea!
This time, possibly spurred on by the bar’s interesting name, we had another great turn out of around 20 people! A running YouTuber, a president of a company that “sells journeys – not travel”, the owner of a coliving space in Thailand, an ambassador for (and huge fan of) HafH who travels across Japan to join in HafH events, and even some of HafH’s Tokyo team came along!
Being the 6th event, most of the attendees had seen Nao-chan’s cooking through posts on social media etc. When her food comes out right in front of you though, it’s even more impressive! As everyone was beginning to drool over how good the food looked and smelled, Nao-chan gave a brief explanation about the food before announcing that it was time to eat. Cheers everyone!!!
Once everyone’s stomachs were full of Nao-chan’s amazing cooking, commander in charge Sigma gave an insightful powerpoint presentation on how HafH works and what kind of world we hope to build with our Neighbours and partner guesthouses. Nao-chan followed with a summary her time over the last month as a travelling chef using the HafH Network.
Then, to help nurture ties among those who attended, we asked everyone to introduce themselves. At the end of each person’s introduction, they mentioned their favourite dish from the day. While many dishes were named, the clear winner was the Lemon Karaage Chicken. Nao-chan had received lemons when she was in Hiroshima (the islands in that area are famous for their lemons), so did her hometown proud by creating a fantastic dish!
Enjoying the incredible food and the fun conversation with all the interesting individuals who came along for the day, time flew by so fast! At the end, we took a photo with all those who came along. You can clearly see in their faces that they all had a great time!
Starting in Nagasaki, then Hiroshima to Kyoto and finally Tokyo, I moved along with Nao-chan as she travelled and worked. As a HafH Neighbour, Nao-chan was like the wind, moving across the country and creating connections through her cooking with the locals who have put down roots in the earth in their respective areas of Japan. I really feel like the first seed of this new Reiwa era lifestyle has been planted through this project!
The other point I picked up from this event is that HafH events have made it easier for locals to go and check out these “guesthouses”, and that there’s no gap between staff and customer. Guesthouse staff, locals and travellers can enjoy time each other, something that hotels and ryokan etc just can’t provide. There was so much fun and excitement to be found at these guesthouses.
There are people who live like the wind, and people who put down roots in the earth, with guesthouses acting as a place for these two types of people to connect with each other. With our network of guesthouses, HafH Neighbours and the friendly locals, this is the kind of living style that HafH is trying to create and to normalise. A place where diversity is celebrated!
Finally, Nao-chan’s own words on her experience over this last month.
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【My experience with the Diversity in Residence Vol.2: Chef in Residence project so far】
by Naoko Hayashi
Beginning on May 1st with the “Welcoming the new Reiwa era” party at Nagasaki SAI, I became a Sometimes HafH Neighbour, and staying at partner guesthouses, embarked on a journey across Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Kyoto.
There were three big things I got out of this trip.
① Guesthouses are not simply just lodgings
To be able to create these food events at the guesthouses in the HafH Network, I had so much help and assistance from the kind guesthouse owners and HafH crew!
Also, guesthouses are not just a place that travellers come to stay at, but also a place where locals can come to chill too!
② There are many different styles of guesthouse
Even though there is only one word for guesthouse, each guesthouse is unique. You could say I experienced the “diversity” of these guesthouses firsthand!
From listening to the owners’ thoughts and talking about why they picked a particular building and decided to turn it into lodging etc, I felt like they can really change what they want to do with their space, its design, the kind of events they hold, and adapt it to suit their individual aims.
③ Travelling around Japan as a HafH Neighbour (member) was smooth and easy and I was able to have experiences that I never imagined.
For me, the HafH service is like having a multipass to a theme park! First you sign up, then depending on the number of days in your plan, just choose where to go!
At present, the number of lodgings in the HafH Network is limited, which in fact actually makes things so much more simple! I got so excited every time I picked the guesthouse I’d be staying at next. It was part of the fun of travelling.
To be completely honest though, at first I thought to myself “there isn’t much difference in price, isn’t it just easier if I book the guesthouses one by one on my own”?!
However, as a HafH member,
〇 You can make a last minute booking
〇 You don’t have to search through hundreds of hotels etc.
〇 Everything is prepaid – You just book and go
This is how HafH made travelling life super easy for me! I realised that even though I might have known about this kind of service, I didn’t really understand it until I tried it for myself.
So, I’d like to introduce the locations that have left a lasting impression on me.
■Uzuhouse: A place where you can work, enjoy the cafe and even learn
■En: A place where locals naturally gather and come to hang out
■HafH Nagasaki Garden: A place to relax and recharge. Locals are also very welcome!
■Burabura: Everyone is their own lead – you can manifest the things you really want to do
■HafH Nagasaki SAI: Has become a permanent fixture in Nagasaki City, and is fast becoming a place for locals and travellers to mix.
At each guesthouse, with their own unique flavours, and through these cooking events, we were able to create a place for different communities in different parts of Japan to meet and interact with each other.
Originally, this project was about me travelling around to different parts of Japan and staying in the HafH Network, sharing my experience as I travel. In actual fact, it become so much more. I made so many new connections for which I’m very grateful for, and learned a lot of new things from the people I met. Once again, I’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all those who came along to the events and to the guesthouses! I’m very grateful to you all.
Words by Naoko Hayashi (Nao-chan)
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