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'Care cafe' provides support for care professionals in Iwate Pref. city

KAMAISHI, Iwate -- After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Takashi Hatooka, 38, was crushed with an overwhelming sense of helplessness. While his own house was washed away by the tsunami, he continued his job as a certified care worker, confirming the safety of his clients every day.

    When he went to evacuation centers, the expertise of care workers was not well understood -- unlike that of nurses -- and he felt isolated.

    The following year, however, Hatooka got the chance to study in Sweden, where methods of caring for those who care for others left an impression on him.

    At the time, many care professionals from the disaster-hit areas in Japan, who continued to work even after losing their own family members and homes to the disaster, had reached their limit and were beginning to quit.

    So Hatooka started a drinking gathering that could serve as a place where care professionals could both make friends and vent their frustrations. Since there were members who did not drink, when thinking about expanding the project, Hatooka got inspiration from the words of a friend and started a "Care Cafe" in 2015.

    The cafe is a place where medical, certified care, social, and other workers in various care-related professions can gather regularly, breaking into groups of four to five people and engaging in conversation with jazz music playing in the background.

    "I want the cafe to be a place where I can meet friends who want to share their thoughts and move forward together," Hatooka said.

    While the motto of the cafe is to enjoy interacting with other care workers, there is another theme behind the meetings. By providing a place where people from various professions can meet face-to-face and get to know one another, the event also prepares the area to respond to future disasters. (By Hiroko Arita, Senior Writer)

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