Social Residence Academia Osaka Amagasaki
Interview: Ishida (Social Residence Academia Osaka Amagasaki)
Special people, places, and things around the world
In our 11th resident interview, we spoke with Takuto Ishida, who lives in Social Residence Academia Osaka Amagasaki.
Ishida is the representative of the travel-beginner support service "Tabiiku". He started the business while he was still in university, and it has now supported over 3,000 travelers. Afterward, he lived on Yuge, a remote island that is part of Ehime prefecture on the island of Shikoku, and also lived in India. After coming back to Japan he moved in to SR Academia Osaka Amagasaki.
We talked to him about his business, and the share house.
What kind of service is Tabiiku?
If you want to travel abroad solo but have a hard time taking the first step, or you want to backpack around the world but don't have a clue where to start, we take those people, put them together, and go on trips. This way they can get used to being overseas, and travel itself, and then work up the courage to take a trip by yourself. It's basically field practice for travelers.
Why did you start Tabiiku?
I first had the idea when I went to Thailand on spring break my first year of university. I really fell in love with everything overseas. Then in my second year, Tabiiku just sort of began as an extension of my hobbies. I started taking it really seriously in my fourth year, when I thought, if I make Tabiiku into a service, I could make a living.
What do you think has been good as a result of starting Tabiiku?
The best thing about it is that I've been able to meet a lot of new people. Once you get into the work force, you lose a lot of the natural personal connections you can have as a student. There are a lot of students who use Tabiiku, so it's been really thrilling to meet young people of this generation, and it's helped me not lose sight of a sense of adventure. There are a lot of things we can learn from young people, so it's a great environment.
Tabiiku is a project that brings beginners together. Of course we have various teachers who provide different kinds of support in different roles, but even people who are absolutely terrified of going to a new country that first day, in a week they really come out of their shell and shine. It's like they grow right before your eyes. So that's always great to see.
What would you say is the best thing about Tabiiku?
Tabiiku is just like a share house, in that it brings people together. There are things that are actually easier to talk about when you meet people for the first time, I think.
Everyone belongs to their own communities, and depending on your relationship with others it can be something very deep, or surface-level. And sometimes it can be embarrassing to talk about your dreams for your life even with people you are really close with.
When you meet someone for the first time, though, you don't know anything about their past. If you meet new people in a friendly way, they'll think you're friendly. It's then easier to change, to find a new you, and talk about things you don't normally get to talk about. So I think by starting on that surface-level relation it's a good environment to learn how to express yourself.
With Tabiiku, you can find a new you because you're communicating with people who don't know the you of the past. The first day of Tabiiku and the first day moving into a share house is the same. Then as each day goes on you build up a new you, so if you're looking for a change it's a great opportunity.
Little by little, you can start to get deeper naturally.
Why do you do Tabiiku?
Our vision is finding special people, places, and things all around the world.
I truly believe if more people are able to travel, the world can change. And if we find more special people all over the world, it's easier for the world to change. The more great people and things we find both in Japan and overseas, the more we'll want the world to change for the better.
Do you have any upcoming plans for new services?
I'd like to go into outer space, and get a bunch of people who want to go into space. That would be the absolute top-elite-level of Tabiiku! (laughs)
I'd like to live in a world where one could travel around the world for free.
Right now, when people want to travel, they have to work hard, save up a bunch of money, then quit their job, right? Then come back and find another job and do it all over again. So it would be nice to have a system where you could travel and make money at the same time, to have some sort of system that kept prohibitive costs down.
I hope someday we'll have more people who live in different places in the world, have a lifestyle of travel in one place or travel like a lifestyle. I don't know if it will ever be 100% completely free, but I want more people to share that goal. It would be nice if people could travel without destroying their savings, and instead for it to be a positive force for all involved and around.
So that's the kind of service I'm aiming for.
You also provide disaster relief, right?
We do disaster relief in Nagano. There are a lot of people who lost their homes, or lost loved ones suddenly, or lost everything they own. It's hard to put into words, honestly. But disasters are so sudden. To put it simply, they're struggling.
There aren't a lot of young people volunteering for disaster relief. The reason I go directly to the affected area is because I pick up people I've met along the way who are good at traveling quickly and easily.
If I reach out to people around the world who are connected with Tabiiku, and I say 'hey we're going to Nagano to volunteer for disaster relief', they come. Travelers have this desire to live a life of freedom, and many of them have realized that, so a lot of them even stay and help for long periods of time.
It's so important to have people who can be there in the affected area for a long time, and many travelers have that sense to do that for the people there. Travelers can be an important way to help restore areas affected by disaster.
Volunteering and traveling is quite similar. You have to think about what to bring, if you're not getting in anyone's way, who do I contact, et cetera. Or even where to go in the first place. How much money will I need. Where will I stay. It's just like travel. Our basic service for travel support bears a strong resemblance to the support we provide for disaster relief, so it doesn't feel difficult at all.
As a next step, we want to have our stated mission and vision materialize into something concrete that can be helpful.
Recommending share houses to people who love travel
I think a lot of people think of travel as something you do for a week or a month, and the days you spend traveling are irregular, and the time you spend back at home is regular.
That may be the case, but I think it's just a matter of perspective. I think it's important not to make that clear of a distinction between regular days and irregular days, and to try to find some sort of stimulation every day. That way you can have the thrill of travel even in your daily life. And share houses are a great way to do that.
One thing that surprised me when I moved into this share house is how many Japanese people there had traveled overseas, and for long periods of time too, like working holiday or study abroad. There are some backpackers too. And of course lots of foreigners, or they're married to foreigners.
So in a way it does kind of feel like you're living in a hostel, especially when you go to the lounge or something and see all the different people there. So even if you've never traveled, it definitely can feel like you are.
We're so glad that Mr. Ishida loves the environment at Social Residence Academia Osaka Amagasaki!