“Creating a Community With No Borders” – Interview with the Creator of SEKAI Couple: Anne
An international atmosphere and laughter filling the air. An usual variety of people at SEKAI HOTEL’s reception. You may be wondering what this is all about.
The reason for this international flair is that SEKAI HOTEL’s staff member Anne created an event with an interesting name: SEKAI Couple.
What kind of event is this? And why did Anne start it in the first place? All these questions will be answered in this interview!
To start, please introduce yourself.
My name is Annemarie Bartel. I’m from Germany and I moved to Japan last year in October. This isn’t my first time in Japan however, as I studied abroad at a university in Kyoto in 2017. This year in April I joined the SEKAI HOTEL team and I am currently working here as a reception staff while also being responsible for overseas promotion.
What made you decide to start this event?
The biggest reason is that when I started living in Japan, I felt that, different from my study abroad, it was quite difficult to get to know other foreigners who were in the same position as me. I was living in Japan for more than half a year already but found that there weren’t a lot of foreigner communities or meetups and even if there were, they were often party and drinking events, which wasn’t really what I was looking for.
At that point I thought to myself “I work at SEKAI HOTEL. I should try to use my work to start an event by myself and just create my own community!”, which made me challenge the art of planning an event.
While SEKAI Couple events do take place at SEKAI HOTEL, they are not about profit, but rather about SEKAI HOTEL’s mission. At SEKAI HOTEL, no matter the nationality, language or age, we want to create a community with No Borders where everyone feels welcome. And this event is getting us a step closer to that.
On top of that, a little more personal reason for creating this event was that I wanted to get to know other international couples, who knew about some of the struggles of being in an international relationship (laughter).
I’m planning on also broadening the event and making it open to foreign students and other foreigners.
Can you tell us about the first installments?
For the first event, we did a Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) party. And since SEKAI HOTEL’s philosophy is to support local businesses, we bought meat from the butcher shop next door, vegetables from the fruit and vegetable vendor around the corner and ice cream bars from a Japanese Confections shop down the street. Because it was the first event of this scope, it was kind of chaotic, but in the end, including me, 6 couples from 7 different countries joined us and had a great time.
Another thing that made me really happy was that Mathias, the designer for many of our SEKAI HOTEL rooms also joined the event with his partner and showed us the rooms he designed, which was a personal highlight for me.
The second event was done with a limited number of participants at a local Wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) shop that’s been going since the Meiji-era. The participants got to make their own Wagashi while being taught by a professional Wagashi craftsman. I really wanted the participants to learn a little bit about local, and in particular, Fuse’s businesses and history while getting to experience a traditional craft. After finishing the workshop, we went back to the hotel front where everyone could enjoy their self-made sweets with some Matcha (Japanese green tea) and finish a morning full of Japanese culture in a relaxed setting.
All the participants seemed interested in SEKAI HOTEL’s unique philosophy and seemingly enjoyed getting to experience Fuse’s shopping street’s “ORDINARY”. On top of that, everyone was able to connect on a personal level, which made the event a huge success for me!
How are you planning on continuing this event?
The next event will be an International Snacks&Sweets Party, where everyone can bring their own favorite snacks and show them to other people.
Just the thought of how many sweets from different countries will be coming together at the event makes me excited.
For details, please follow this link:
*Please note that this event was cancelled.
How and if this event keeps going really depends on the current situation, but I want to let more people know about the wonders of Fuse and SEKAI HOTEL’s worldview. Fuse is a wonderful place full of hidden gems and I would love for other people to learn about the friendliness of the people of Fuse, who treat everyone nicely, no matter who you are.
Is there anything else you want to say?
I think it would be great if SEKAI HOTEL could turn into a place foreigners can come to and feel at home. A lot of our staff members speak English and I would love for SEKAI HOTEL to be a hub for foreigners to connect.
Japan has an abundance of charms that haven’t been discovered yet. While Fuse does feel like a typical Osaka city, if you walk around its streets, you will discover restaurants only locals know about and you will get to experience a completely new Japan. I want other people to be able to discover this as well.