Three very different collaborative spaces in Tokyo

It feels like there’s a new co-working space opening up in Tokyo every week! It’s quite an exciting trend and even though I didn’t purposely seek it out, I happened to visit three collaborative spaces, all in the space of a week.

  • Terminal
  • Tokyo Hacker Space
  • co-lab Nishiazabu

Terminal

Terminal in Harajuku is the new, cool kid on the block. It’s basically a very nice 24hr Internet cafe with no stalls, with the same type of loose membership system that requires a physical card. You can get wifi, comfortable seats, free refills for great coffee and soft drinks, electricity outlets at every table, and hot paninis (600JPY).

Terminal
Terminal

Its launch was brilliantly executed:

  • a teaser site that got a lot of Twitter love from the Tokyo creative community
  • a great opening party
  • masterful copywriting that piggybacks on the nomad working boom
  • pre-mentions and reviews on the right sites

There’s an event space on the first floor. It just was a stripped down, skeleton space when I was there, but I can imagine some exciting events being held there.

Tokyo Hacker Space

I’ve been curious about this space ever since hearing about it at Bar Camp last year. Paul and I hopped over to join the weekly Open Meeting.

Interestingly enough, it’s a “real” house in a quiet, residential neighborhood. There was no signage and we spent a good five minutes peering into houses and glaring at Google Maps.

Tokyo Hacker Space
Tokyo Hacker Space

I say this with the upmost respect – this was the geekiest place I’ve ever been in! It’s a fabulous example of community building; a dynamic atmosphere that’s filled with mutual respect and joy in helping to bring each other’s projects to life.

The focus of the Space fluxes depending on its residents. Currently, there’s a strong hardware focus because Safecast is camped out there, building radiation sensors for deployment around Fukushima prefecture.

co-lab Nishi Azabu

co-lab Nishi Azabu
co-lab Nishi Azabu

co-lab is a series of collaborative spaces around Tokyo. It’s probably the largest and most established of creative, co-working spaces in Tokyo, and one that’s dear to my heart since Tokyo Art Beat used to be headquartered at the Sanbancho office for a few years.

Purely by chance, the Nishi Azabu building is a 60 second walk from the current AQ/TAB office.

The Nishi Azabu space also hosts furniture giant Kokuyo‘s incubation center for their inhouse designers, called “KREI open source studio”. This brings a much stronger corporate flavor to the space, although there doesn’t seem to be a natural mixing of the KREI people and co-lab residents.

The underground salon area, which is where the non-permanent residents can work, turns into a wonderful event space. We dropped by a talk event organized by the ticketing service Peatix, in co-lab’s underground event space.

Underground space for co-lab Nishi Azabu
Underground space for co-lab Nishi Azabu