A learning journey full of joy

by Naho Iguchi November 13, 2019
A learning journey full of joy

A year after NION Week, NION had another milestone. From 01. to 05. September, our partner organization from Japan, RELEASE; visited us in Berlin. We tailored a special learning journey for eight of its members. Purposes of the learning journey were to tap into the whole bodily senses, absorb inspirations from the uniquely made city, Berlin, gain business ideas for the company, and hopefully ignite personal transformation.

Over the past years, NION had developed a relationship with RELEASE;, Kyoto-based business design firm. Both RELEASE; and NION believe in the collaborative economy: that is, a system where individuals perpetually carry out meaningful encounters and dialogs, co-design processes that unite values for living and working, and collectively build enabling infrastructures and environments in cities, towns, and villages. RELEASE; is devoted to work on issues both globally and individually in scale, from climate change to traditional company’s restructuring. RELEASE; guides its clients that seek alternative form of capitalism.

(“The collaborative economy focuses on shared ownership of individual property, co-management of services, co-production of manufactured goods and, therefore, hinges more on collaboration than on sharing.” -Politics of the Everyday. Ezio Manzini. P 91)

The learning journey set about at BONANZA Coffee Roasters Kreuzberg, Berlin’s beloved cafe. BONANZA has its pride in trading coffee beans in a finest way (not fair trade!) and delivering an aromatic pure flavor to the table. Gastronomic stimulations continuously amused the RELEASE; members throughout the week thanks to Frea, Katerschmaus, Markthalle Neun, ORA, and Cafe Botanico.

The participants were fully impressed with the socially minded restaurants that serve locally produced organic ingredients and committed to offer a warm dining experience. They also enjoyed cooking together at their accommodation with fresh ingredients bought from Berlin’s wonderful choices of organic markets.


Meeting the NION community

NION community members welcomed the group and introduced their projects. Thanks to Francesco Barbati, they got an opportunity to take part in Handshape Project at Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. The project facilitated its participants to get to know about strangers and find a commonality with each other. Once they found something in common, they shook their hands and take a mold of the shape of handshaking.

Birgit Severin and Guillaume Neu-Renaud were very happy to reunite with Yukinori Sakurai and Miho Kazama, founders of RELEASE;, who had taken care of the two Berlin-based artists during their artist in residency at the Goethe Institute Kyoto earlier this year. The pair toured the guests in their big workshop complex in Schöneweide, presenting various art pieces that they had conceptualized and developed.


Strolling around Berlin

Every time we host guests from around the world in Berlin, we are convinced how special and unique the city is. On one hand, it is important to take them to popular, new places in order to experience diversity of emerging initiatives in art, culture, startups, urban design, and education. On the other hand, Berlin has so much to offer by simply walking on a street. Murals that speak politics. Multiple languages that you hear over at a cafe. Individuals’ expressions in fashion and appearances. Eccentric musicians at a U-bahn station. An open-air bookshelf at a corner. Surviving old squat buildings. Vibrant and entrepreneurial Thai park! These occurrences and spaces in Berlin do make visitors ponder how their own cities are and how their everyday life is moving.

With that said, of course we didn’t miss showing the RELEASE; members Berlin’s hot spots. In the first evening, they were mesmerized by a program of Musikfest Berlin at the Berlin Philharmonie hall. Director of Holzmarkt Projekt, Ania Pilipenco, shared with them her amazing story about striving for a creative space for citizens. A morning walk at the relocated Prinzessinnengarten inspired them to start their own community garden back in Japan. Biking at the gigantic Tempelhofer Feld reminded them of a feeling of freedom. The exhibition of Original Bauhaus empowered them to envision making a movement.

As their host, we were sincerely touched while listening to each participant’s reflection on the last day. The learning journey was synchronically echoed with their life missions, questions, and challenges. Some shed tears. Others confessed struggles. Others spoke up their determination. And this phrase summed up everything: “Each and every moment of the learning journey was precious and full of joy.”



Since 2015, RELEASE; has partnered with the Kyoto city government and in April 2019, it successfully facilitated an enactment of an ordinance, “Community-based Companies.” – a self-certified system to recognize organizations whose business schemes are deliberately crafted for social innovators and contribute to local communities. The ordinance defines that Kyoto local companies that protect and nurture socio-economic capitals such as citizens, nature, and culture are the key in Kyoto economy regardless of their size and profit.

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