Unveiling the Elements of Ibasho (Sense of Belonging)

How would you know where to find your ibasho, a sense of belonging? Professor Haruhiko Tanaka shares that there are three elements of ibasho: it's a place where you feel accepted, where you have meaningful relationships, and that makes you look forward to the future.

Identifying ibasho

Nick: Let's dive into your paper, I found your paper very helpful. And you mentioned that there are three elements in ibasho. I find these three elements extremely empowering and helpful. So, would you like to explain what these three elements are?

Haruhiko: Yeah, the three elements of ibasho are place, human relations, and time. The first is the spatial element, the word basho is place. So ibasho is a place of community, a comfortable place for the people. And as one feels safe, secure, accepted, and approved, these places are ibasho.

The home is first ibasho for most of the children, and second ibasho should be schools. But schools are not necessarily an ibasho for everyone, because schools are evaluated by grades or sports. Such kind of high grade of sports or literature. So school is not necessarily an ibasho for them.

But for those students or children who do not accept the culture of their schools, they need a third place, aside from home and school — like a youth center, or free school, free space, and so on.

The second element is human relations, it's very important for ibasho, for most of the students do not find an ibasho in schools, due to bad relations with classmates or teachers. So ibasho is a place where a good relationship is guaranteed, or at least no one is a threat. It's the second element of ibasho, human relations.

And the third is very important, it's time — element of time. A place is not an ibasho when there's no perspective for the future. When a student escapes from school, he or she loses not only space, but also prospect of the future: What should I do next? What is my future? If I’m not attending school, what should I do in the future? So there are uncertainties for his or her future. So the timescape is a very important element for ibasho.

Nick: Thank you for sharing those three elements. I've put a lot of reflection on these three elements and my experience of living in Japan. And actually, one of my best friends who I had a business with in Japan, his oldest son really struggled with school, he actually developed mutism at school.

So he just would not talk to anyone. And I guess he didn't feel very comfortable engaging in conversation and talking to people at school. And I think he spent much of his time in sickbay, or in the nurse's station studying by himself.

So I was quite concerned about my friend's son, whether or not he was happy, and if he was surviving. But actually, he's done quite well, and now he's studying at a University in Tokyo. So it sounds like he got through school, and he's studying engineering, computer engineering.

So I think it was okay in the end for for him. And then I've discovered through my own business that ibasho can be a community. And I guess I've developed ibasho with my community. And that's been through zoom calls, and doing podcasts and things like that.

So I have regular zoom calls with my members in my community. And even though we're not in the same room, we still share and have engaging conversations and share aspects of our personal life. So it has become a virtual ibasho. And that feels really satisfying and really rewarding.