SHARE LIFE DESIGN CEO Yasuhiro Yamamoto. Hometown: Matsuyama City. Works on various projects including support for exchange students, creating sharehouses that cultivate relationships and activities encouraging the internationalization of the local area.

Learning and growing together in an enriching lifestyle

Dogo Onsen has been the setting for many novels and films, located in a town lined with many charming buildings.

I visited this historically rich town in Ehime prefecture when the days were still warm in September.


Mr. Yamamoto had kindly agreed to an interview, a man with a great smile who is as invigorating as the blue summer skies with ambition to outweigh the heat of the season.


Mr. Yamamoto, head of SHARE LIFE DESIGN, endeavors to connect people and the land starting with cultural-exchange sharehouses in Ehime as well as internationalization of local areas and support for exchange students.


I talk to Mr. Yamamoto about his hopes and expectations, what got him interested in sharehouses and what’s next for him in the future.

Let’s get on with the story!

dougo4   dougo2   dougo6
dougo7   dougo1   dougo8

The area around Dogo Onsen station.

---Did you always have the desire to connect and unite people with the area?

Mr. Yamamoto It started when I was in university. I actually hated this kind of thing when I was younger.

---I understand where you’re coming from.

Mr. Yamamoto I particularly hated the overwhelmingly close-knit culture out in the country and wanted to escape from it as soon as I could. It was only when I ventured overseas did I realize that it’s true what they say about Japan being a very blessed country. I lived on my own for a while but found it to be quite lonely, then recognising the importance of relationships. They give you emotional stability on a great level.

---These ‘relationships’ we often take for granted are actually quite important, aren’t they?

Mr. Yamamoto That’s right. I remember thinking to myself that they shouldn’t be taken for granted when I experienced the world outside of Japan.


---How did you come to be involved with the cultural exchange sharehouse?

Mr. Yamamoto When I first lived in a sharehouse with my friends it was really great. Calling on each other and talking about work and such was so stimulating and I came to the realization that one could grow in such an environment. It occurred to me that mixing this kind of lifestyle with people from overseas, who I have long had an interest in, would be even better. When I spoke to a professor at my university’s international relations section about wanting to start up a sharehouse for both Japanese and people from other countries they thought it was good idea.

---You went to university?

Mr. Yamamoto Yes. There weren’t a lot of rooms in the dormitories and the university was having trouble securing accommodation for their exchange students, so we decided to work together.
We brought in one more person who had been looking after exchange students in Ehime and the 3 of us set up a non-profit organization. That was in the autumn of last year. We opened the sharehouse, and now here we are.


The trio responsible for「Share Life Design」

---What inspired you to do that?

Mr. Yamamoto I wanted to live in an environment where I could grow as a person, and decided to get up and create that environment myself. Living with people from around world you can learn about different cultures and languages on a daily basis. Also, its hard to work up the motivation to study by yourself, often giving up and leaving things until another day. Humans are weak like that.

---Environment is indeed important.

Mr. Yamamoto Talking to exchange students and people around uni, I learned that they wanted to become more involved with the locals and make friends Japanese people. Sure, it’s easy to make acquaintances you sit with in class but it’s much harder to create true friendships. People often lose contact with so-called friends after they’ve returned to their home country.

---That’s true, isn’t it. They become good friends with other foreigners but don’t get to know Japan very well while they are here.

Mr. Yamamoto Yeah. So by living together I believe that that friendship will last even after they return home.

---Because you’re living and sharing your lives together, right!

Mr. Yamamoto Exchange students want to make friends with the Japanese, and there are also some Japanese people who want to make friends with people from around the world but don’t know how or where to start. It’s my hope that that through living in a sharehouse these people can interact with each other and also gain a connection to the local area.

---What kind of events to you hold?

Mr. Yamamoto Exchange students teach their own languages. We’ve done English, Korean and Chinese many times over. We also have a yoga instructor living in the house so we get her to do 2 or 3 classes a month for the sharemates as well as the locals.


One of the English classes.

---Why did you decide to run the yoga classes?

Mr. Yamamoto I felt the close bonds between the locals loosening and wished to resurrect interaction and communication amongst us Japanese ourselves, and wanted to create platforms to be able to do that.


A look at one of the yoga classes.

The connection widens

---You are also involved in another project. correct?

Mr Yamamoto That’s right. I run a thing called「1455634 University」.

いよココロザシ大学 1455634University-(1)

1455634 University」のWEBサイトページ。

---What exactly do you do?

Mr. Yamamoto We try to teach the best bits about Ehime that can’t be learned from a book by holding classes. Our catchphrase is ‘Everyone is a teacher, everyone is a student, everywhere is our campus’.

The people of Ehime become our teachers, teaching other locals about what they do for a living.

---Does this project have a connection with your sharehouse?

Mr. Yamamoto Yes, it does. The keywords are ‘Connection’ and ‘Learning’ between locals and this fundamental theme unites the university and sharehouse. Working in both areas I could see the synergy and it amazed me how much the two projects are linked.

---It must be great to have both your projects intertwine with each other! Aren’t you run off your feet?

Mr. Yamamoto Yeah, I’m really busy. My schedule is full for the next two months (laughs)

---Really! (laughs) Alright, to finish things off tell us what you think best thing about managing a sharehouse has been so far?

Mr. Yamamoto One thing I’m really pleased about is that we started the organisation with 3 members, and we’ve added to the ranks with some excellent people supporting us, including university acquaintances and local residents. It’s amazing to have the cooperation of such great members, and I think it might have been our motivation that drew everyone to us. In this way I feel that, in management, it’s really important to have clear vision and motivation.

---That’s great!

Mr. Yamamoto It’s a really great environment because we have such excellent members among our ranks. We attract students with a strong ambition for growth and magic happens among them. It’s a great environment and whenever we get together for drinks I always think to myself that I am among people who will eventually do great things for Ehime in the future.

---Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story with me today! I’m looking forward to the day one of you does great things for Ehime!


Mr. Yamamoto is always surrounded by people in his photos.
When I asked why, he replied with a smile that he is the one who gets lonely the most.

SHARE LIFE DESIGN, surrounded by the warmth of support by others, aims to branch out into construction, design and much more.

We’re looking forward to hearing about Mr. Yamamoto’s endeavors and discovering what kind of relationships and connections will be born forth from Ehime!
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down to an interview with us!
Author/Hiroki Watanabe
Tokyo Sharehouse editor. Keio University student, third year. Working towards connecting society together through shared living and will go through rivers and over mountains in order to achieve this.
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