Enhancing Community Ties-- Neighbors' Day in Japan

シブヤ大学.JPGcopyright rinjinmatsuri.jp

Have you ever heard of Neighbors' Day? This is a cozy get-together event to have a good time with neighbors, chatting over food and drinks.

The event originated in France in 1999, triggered by the death of an elderly citizen who was living alone in a small apartment in Paris. After the incident, residents of the apartment began to get together in the courtyard of the building for a buffet or a luncheon. They hoped to encourage interaction among residents to avoid loneliness. The event has now grown to be a major movement, joined by 8 million people in 29 European countries. www.european-neighbours-day.com/
In June 2008, Japan joined the movement after being certified by the headquarters in France.

Anyone who is interested in the event is welcome to participate at any of the venues. The event information is available on Japan's website; www.rinjinmatsuri.jp/main/index.php/shibu (only in Japanese)

If no events are scheduled in your area, you are welcome to host your own event with friends and family. Such events include gatherings over tea, flower-viewing, or holding a flea market at local parks or shrines.

To help spread the idea of Neighbors' Day, the Japanese branch has set up a "concierge" to promote the activity domestically by enabling exchange of information with members in other counties.

Atanase Perifan, a founder of Neighbors' Day, says, "I started Neighbors' Day to prevent social problems such as isolation, withdrawal and apathy. Some people never exchange greetings with their neighbors, yet they communicate with someone on the other side of the world through the internet. We live in such a strange world. It is my hope that this event helps deepen our relationships with our neighbors. It could also be the first step in reviewing our roles with our families and society. We have to create communities full of relationships and confidence supported by a sharing spirit. This is the theme of the 21st century."

(Taeko Ohno)
May 14, 2010