Community Planning around the Repurposed Supermarket
The town of Akakina is a ten minute drive from Amami airport.
“This ex-supermarket is located in such a convenient place, that if we convert it into a complex of elder care home, adult daycare center, eatery, food mart and hotel, we could create a hub for Food Culture Promotion and Community-based Integrated Care, employ local people and invigorate the local economy,” Yamashita thought.
At this point, several Denpaku inns had already started operating nearby, but there still are vacant houses left in the area. They could be utilized as houses for employees, shared houses and special types of Denpaku such as ones that come with a craft studio or equipment.
The facility also aspires to team up with local disability organizations and help provide disabled people with job opportunities and art activities.
Specialists of various fields, sharing the same vision and goals, brought in their insights to realize the project. Prof. Yukiko Inoue from Graduate School of Social Service Management Japan College of Social Work; Ms. Satoko Nakamukae, founder of elder care organization Iroha; Mr. Shinichiro Katsu, business consultant and new industry creation producer of Amami City; Dr. Hidehiro Tokuda, founder of Family Clinic Neriya that provides home health care and house-call services in Amami.
The facility was named Denpaku + Magun. “Magun (pronounced ‘mah-goon’)” is a dialect spoken in Amami which means “blend together”.
The renovation work began so as to create a place like Bethel, where the elderly, people with disabilities, the locals and tourists can come together and interact as equal individuals.
The renovation started in December, 2017.
Not only it being a fairly old building, the complex roof shape made the waterproofing quite difficult. Also, the hotel rooms on the second floor required extra care to soundproof as much as possible.
In order to cut construction costs, some of the construction work was performed by the whole staff.
Construction ended in early July 2018 and the facility was physically ready to be open to the public.
The first floor houses the following: Eldercare facility Akakina House, an elderly home that also provides adult daycare service; MAGUN Plaza, an event space that offers unique Amamian culture experience and more; a food mart and eatery that provides food and dishes using organic fruits and vegetables and fresh seafood sent directly from the local fishermen; and the reception and the back office of Denpaku Hotel.
Within the elderly care section, there are guest rooms where elderly travelers and tourists with disabilities could stay receiving appropriate care. Inside MAGUN Plaza, there is a medical counseling room where consulting and massage services are provided. The cafe and restaurant space also offers after-school activities and child-care services for local children.
On the second floor is Denpaku Hotel, that has 9 guest rooms in total. The rooms are simple and comfortable with high ceilings, making the most of the building’s roof shape.
The lobby space is connected to the first floor, through the double story opening over Magun Plaza. The space holds a collection of books, CDs and DVDs about Amami,where the visitors can find not only tourist information but also learn in depth about Amamian culture, history and nature.
The Opening of Denpaku + Magun
On July 14. 2018, Denpaku + Magun opened its doors, celebrated by the local community.
The project was finally realized after 9 years since Yamashita visited Bethel.
At the opening event, everyone joined in the traditional Hachigatsu Odori dance of the community and the liveliness of the former supermarket seemed to come back.
However, the completion of the facility is not the final goal.
Yamashita and Amami Innovation, his firm that operates Denpaku + Magun, are making a daily effort to improve its operation and various event plans.
The next major goal is to utilize other vacant buildings in the Amami Archipelago and open Magun Plazas in various places.