The Kobokan's activities and
the Spirit of a Settlement House
The Kobokan was established in 1919 as a settlement house in the Shitamachi (downtown) area of Tokyo. It was established by a group of missionaries sent to Japan by the North American Protestant Church together with members of the Japan Women's Christian Temperance Union. A settlement house can be described as a place where staff members live within a particular community and work together with local community members in dealing with welfare issues relevant to that community. The settlement house concept and spirit still flourish in the various activities organized by the Kobokan today. These activities comprise: a children's home, a nursery school, and a community activities section.
Kenji Nohara-Director, Kobokan Community Centre
The Kobokan has a long history of overcoming financial hardships in order to achieve its aims. This is true even today. Government funding is available only for certain areas of the Kobokan's work. Activities for which the Kobokan has to generate its own funds include:
All of these programmes are supported by the Kobokan's staff, by local community members and by volunteers from many other areas.
Today, the Japanese government's basic principle of social welfare is one of cooperation of local community members in providing activities and support networks which are rooted in each community. However, there is only limited awareness within Japanese society of the need for such activities. There are no organizations providing activities and support for infants, children, young adults and elderly people. It is for these reasons that I feel the Kobokan has such an important role to play in meeting the social welfare needs in its surrounding community.