The Social Welfare Corporation Kikuhokokai Heroes is a multifunctional facility and is engaged in the production and sales of “Nishijin Beer,” which attracts attention from restaurants all over Japan. We interviewed Mr. Tatsumi Nomura, Managing Director and Secretary General, and asked him why a welfare facility is engaged in beer manufacturing with its base at a Kyo-machiya townhouse.
A large-scale Kyo-machiya townhouse in oriyadate* structure with over 140-year history. It was used as a restaurant, but currently it is a welfare facility of the Social Welfare Corporation Kikuhokokai Heroes (hereinafter called “Heroes”). In summer 2023, the factory of the craft beer, “Nishijin Beer,” moved in from the Nishijin Textile Center where it used to be.
* One type of Kyo-machiya townhouses frequently found in the Nishijin area where there used to be a lot of textile manufacturers. The use of its spaces in the front and the back is different from that of a normal Kyo-machiya townhouse: the living space in the front and the working space in the back.
A historical Kyo-machiya townhouse is transformed to a welfare facility
Heroes is the social welfare facility engaged in two main businesses: “Daily Nursing Care” such as to provide a place for daytime activities, etc. and “Continuous Support for Employment Service Type B” to provide workplaces.
|It is on the Omiya-dori St. in the south of its cross with Imadegawa-dori St.|
When a relocation place for such facility was searched because the building where it used to be was scheduled to be pulled down and its size was expected to expand, this Kyo-machiya townhouse was introduced by a person from the community. In fact, Heroes is unique being engaged in brewing and sales of the craft beer, “Nishijin Beer,” in addition to management of a welfare facility. Therefore, a space large enough to accommodate both a welfare facility and a beer factory was looked for. Since this Kyo-machiya townhouse in oriyadate structure was originally a thread factory, it had an enough space. As the townhouse was with an apparent value of 140-year history and the combination of a welfare facility and Kyo-machiya townhouse was accepted as an interesting idea, the relocation was determined right away.
|The height of the vaulted ceiling of oriyadate structure is very impressive.|
The repairs specially required for a welfare facility
Because it had been vacant for a long time, the normal repairs and improvements were required including cleaning the filthy walls and installing lights and air conditioners before moving in. Mr. Nomura said, “Additionally, we requested the landlord to make necessary repairs and improvements such as to reinforce the house with earthquake-resistant walls, etc. as earthquake proof is obligatory for any welfare facilities. We have also made some improvements in terms of security, including installing cameras and putting shatter-resistant window films over the windows.”
|The tatami room facing to the garden is the facility-users’ workspace.|
Utilizing the different areas of the space unique to Kyo-machiya townhouse
This 140-year-old Kyo-machiya townhouse has a main house and two storehouses as well as gardens. It stands dignifiedly in “Senryo-ga-tsuji”, the area particularly well-known for its textile business in Nishijin. The front part of the townhouse is expected to be used as the beer factory, and the other parts will be used as a welfare facility. The users comment that the facility has a good atmosphere which makes them feel relaxed. The staffs also enjoy putting seasonal decorations on the tokonoma alcove, which they did not have at the facility before. They have put exercise machines in the workspace area facing to the garden, and they also enjoy the footbath sitting on the engawa wooden veranda during their relaxing time.
Mr. Nomura says, “Since we moved in during the pandemic period, we have not so far been able to fully utilize the facility. But when it is over, we would like to plan some events at our townhouse for local people to join.”
|A room of the Kyo-machiya townhouse with the exercise machines, which looks like a gym.|
|The time to enjoy a footbath sitting on the engawa Japanese wooden veranda looking at the Japanese garden, is the pastime unique to Kyo-machiya townhouse.|
“Nishijin Beer” produced at the Kyo-machiya townhouse connects the facility to the local community
The business of “Nishijin Beer” brewery was started to let the facility users to have connections with the local community. When thinking of the type of merchandise to be produced and sold, the craft beer was selected since the market of the craft beer was expanding then and the former representative liked beer. The craft beer business started in 2017 has continuously produced various original beers, having actively collaborated with farmers, university seminars, and the government. The users of the facility are in some way related to “Nishijin Beer” depending on their specialties: those users of Daily Nursing Care put labels on the bottles and make tags, and those users of Continuous Support Employment Service Type B are in charge of bottling and brewing.
The number of shops which sell “Nishijin Beer” is increasing, and it has become a popular summer gift. After it was awarded the gold prize at a fair, they are overwhelmed by the number of orders they receive in summer.
|“Nishijin Beer” is very popular because of its original flavors and packages.|
t the previous facility, we opened a taproom (a beer bar next to the brewery factory) once a week, which functioned as a place where Heroes and the local community could be connected. Mr. Nomura says, “The beer factory is scheduled to be opened this coming summer. After its opening, I would like not only to sell the beer, but also to make the space for eating and drinking to have more interaction with the local people. I hope to support the lives of the users as well as to manage the shop business well.” Lastly, he added, “It is meaningful for us if those enjoyed our beer could realize that its business is run by a welfare facility. The Kyo-machiya townhouse is filled with Nishijin’s unique atmosphere where visitors’ feedbacks are well. We expect this Kyo-machiya townhouse could greatly assist to promote the interaction with the community as well as our businesses.”