One of the hardest things when coming to a new country is not only getting to know people but also knowing where to find them. Yes, we can meet people at work, or we can head to bars or coffee shops, but finding people who share our interests – or can open us up to new experiences – can sometimes be tough. This is where Small World comes in.
Since 2018, Small World has been the driving force behind meetups, social events, parties, and gatherings that foster a strong and vibrant international community for both expats and Japanese alike. The brainchild of Brit Matthew Chima and Brazilian Amanda Nanini Ayabe, Small World aims to bring the Nagoya community closer, so that everyone can share their passions, learn about other cultures and make friends for life, all while making Nagoya into the most exciting city in Japan.
“Creating Small World was never a plan for us – it happened organically. Somehow, we’d become the organizers of The MyBar International Party, and after a few months, its success was unexpected and undeniable,” says Matthew. “We then started to consider if we should start expanding into other events, to show everyone that Nagoya isn’t ‘Japan’s most boring big city’, as it’s often called – it’s actually a vibrant and exciting city, full of interesting people who are just waiting for you to meet them. We held our first event under the Small World name, our 2019 Hanami Party, and we pulled in over 150 people! We knew then that we were on to something big in Nagoya.”
The events Small World hold are as full and varied as the people of Nagoya itself.
“When the International Party became too big, we moved to the Emporium, where we now host Small World Big Party and have also held King of Karaoke. As well as our parties – with the ever-inspirational Tim Mullinnix bringing his boundless enthusiasm and inventive drinking games – we try to create events that are different from the norm and therefore aren’t very common but also sorely needed by the community. We try to fill niches and celebrate subcultures, so we’ve created events like Metal Meetup, organized with Travis Finch; Latin Night with skilled dancer and founder of the Nagoya Salsa Club, Sadihy Jimenez; Craft Beer Night; and took over the Trivia Night at Shooters,” continues Matthew.
Aiming to make Nagoya a cleaner place, there are numerous environmentally conscious events such as the street clean-up event Sunday Pick Me Up, and an event for vegans, Clean Cuisine. Initially spearheaded by Kanae Hasegawa, these meetups are held in conjunction with Rodrigo Gutierrez, Katrin Funk , and Sherry Schafer – fervent environmentalists all, the latter two of whom also work with Fridays for Future and Climate Action Nagoya – and both events drive real positive change in Nagoya’s community with eco-habits and goals.
“Everyone we work with is passionate about the events that they are involved with,” continues Matthew.” They don’t see this as an obligation but as a purpose. They breathe life into these events, and that passion makes them extraordinary.”
The last year has been one of continuous growth for Small World, but Matthew and Amanda are not looking just to sit back and reflect on their success.
“The last MyBar International Party will be this month, but we’re rebranding and kicking off again on February 1st with The International Party at Transit Studio Luggage. We’re using the opportunity to start fresh, with a big focus on style and quality. This time we’ll be working with Christian Ollier of Dope Jams fame to bring you some very talented DJs, and guests will also be able to grab some top-notch Mexican food from Jams Tacos located on the same floor,” Matthew says.
“There are some cool cultural events we’d like to get some people together for at the start of the year, the first of which is Hadaka Matsuri, or the ‘Naked Man Festival’, which I’m sure you guys are very eager to experience.
“We’ve also got some brand new events which cover a whole host of things including cabaret, sports, city adventures, eating contests, food and drink, language, games and some events for the Indian, Mexican, British and Brazilian communities. Small World’s sophomore year is going to be absolutely off the hook. It’s an exciting time to be in Nagoya!”
“We understand it can be scary walking into a room full of strangers. But the truth is that our community is the warmest, most open-minded, and friendly community in Nagoya. Every single person in our group would welcome you with open arms and a smile on their face.
“For me, our greatest success so far is managing to bring together all these fantastic people in Nagoya. I think the international community can be a little cliquey at times, with some friendship groups hanging out separately in different places across the city. Foreigners and Japanese people often spend time with their own, which is a shame. Small World has managed to bring a lot of these people together and created a kind of cohesive unit – the lines have become blurred, and at our events, everyone hangs out together.”
As Small World is doing stuff all of the time, the best place to see what is happening is to head over to their Facebook page and give it a like. That way, you’ll be updated with all of their going ons, and won’t miss a chance to meet amazing new people. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and make Small World, your world!
Images: by Small World (Own Work)