Today was the first day we met the students from Rikkyo University. It was a great day to get to know each other and to learn about Design Thinking! In the afternoon for some team building, we visited Asakusa, a district within Tokyo famous for the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon. Along the path to the temple were many little shops and stores set up with delicious food and interesting trinkets. One of the first places we stopped had these breaded pastries with red bean paste that came in really cute designs such as birds and symbols. It was one of my first foods here with the popular red bean paste that I've heard so much about and it was very delicious!
During our discussion session today, one of the most pressing "unmet social needs" that we identified in Japan was the low birthrate and resulting aging population. This phenomenon threatens to have dire repercussions on Japan's economic growth and social reality, and therefore needs to be urgently addressed.
A number of our female speakers (at ETIC, Aeru and Impact Hub Tokyo) spoke about this issue. They identified the high cost of child-rearing, demanding work hours and the increasing number of women in the workforce as significant factors causing the fall in birthrate, and expressed their desire to create a "space" to support mothers and childcare. For example, one social entrepreneur created fitness classes designed for postpartum support, while another focused on nursery care that would enable mothers to continue working.
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