Critical Thinking Session

Time to sum up the lost three years!

    Things are moving toward back-to-life stage after the pandemic. Well, for us, the most streeful period where we stayed home worried about being infected had lasted only a month or two, in fact. Even so, this past three years have been extremely harsh and painful for us especially financially. Now that almost all the irregular pandemic regulations and social caps have been taken off, it's about time to review what we've experienced in the past three years.


    To start with, let me look back on our situational changes chronologically in the timeline.


Jan. 2020.

- With almost 20 MC staff and nearly 200 members, we had been regularly hosting more than 200 sessions a month in ten local areas in Saitama, Tokyo and Chiba.

- We had been working hard to open a dining bar named 'Stories' in Higashijujo on the 29th of February.

- We went to a wild game restaurant in Chichibu and had bear meat for the first time.

- The news of an unknown virus in China sneaked into our daily conversation.


Feb. 2020

- As the public’s general concerns rose after many of the passengers of the Diamond Princess were tested positive, there were looming shadow of the virus approaching directly into our lives.

- The Abe administration decided to request schools to temporarily close, and the phrases "keep distance," "stay home," "avoid 3-mitsu" went viral quickly.

- As fear for meeting quickly rose among the members and staff, in the morning of February 28, we decided to close all the sessions temporarily. (Honestly, I expected that we would be able to reopen them in a month!)

- We opned Stories on the 29th as initially scheduled and had a party.


Mar. 2020

- As our monthly sales income suddenly dropped from about a million yen to zero, we started to run an online study named SRECO.

- We worked from Stories and continued having some parties already planned, and some of our members also visited the place to enjoy chatting and drinking.

- However, as the number of the infected and the death counts soared, we decided to close this newly opened bar by the end of March.

- All the money had run out, and we decided to apply for some public aids for affected businesses.


Apr. 2020 - May 2020

- We opened our online zoom sessions, but the sales income stayed as low as one-fifth compared to two months ago.

- We stayed home and didn't meet our members in person, but some of our members occasionally came to our office to keep in touch offline. Besides, the fortuneteller wanted us to continue the weekly offline session, so we kept it alive as the only offline activity from before the pandemic.

- Since I couldn't stay home inactively, I went out every day for a walk between my morning sessions and evening sessions.

- I doubted if this pandemic was so serious as people believed, so I took off a mask and started to endanger myself by touching things and then touching my eyes or mouth.


Jun. 2020

- On Minnie's birthday, we decided to go out for a lunch and a dinner. After that, we restarted to dine out because we learned that those restaurants were having a very hard time.

- We bought a small car, camping chairs, and tarps to plan something new, such as hosting outdoor sessions.


Jul. 2020 - Aug. 2020

- Aiming to start up a dream project that all of us can keep hope to hang out again, we traveled across prefectural borders to look for a resort house where we can plan some fun events in the future after the pandemic.

- To materialize our dream project vision, we decided to take out a bank loan for the first time since we founded SoC.


Sep. 2020 - Nov. 2020

- We took out 5 million yen from the bank and bought a bus and a house in front of Toyama Gulf.

- Renovated the house to make it a resort place where members can stay and enjoy!

- The numbers of the infected and the deaths went down a little, and we could host some offline events with a few members.


Dec. 2020

- The numbers got worse again, and stay-home pressure regained its power.

- We ran out of bullets and faced serious financial crisis, so we decided to move out from the office we loved to a small apartment room in front of Motoara River.


Jan. 2021 - Apr. 2021

- We registered our skills on job-matching service platforms and looked for the opportunity.

- Thanks to the platform and a job offer came from one of our members, we could quickly earn an income bigger than our main online sales!


May 2021

- I decided to stop working clients' jobs and to focus on our own project.

- We made a website for the new community project and named it Club T-CAT.


Jun. 2021 - Aug. 2021

- We started hosting bus tours, but our members also had split opinions at the time. Considering the situation, we decided to make free tours for three months.


Sep. 2021 - Nov. 2021

- We held our thanks-giving charity campaign, and almost 20 of our members joined it to support this project.

- Even though most of the events weren't profitable, we enjoyed face-to-face events with the members.


Dec. 2021

- We held our first T-CAT Christmas Bus Tour and SoC's year-end drinking party after two years!

- Again, we ran out of bullets at the end of the year.


Jan. 2022 - Jun. 2022

- We restarted our offline English sessions in a different style, in which members can also host events.

- I worked parttime as a hospital patient driver and came to be confirmed that this pandemic had been too exaggerated.

- We hosted tours to Kamakura, Chichibu, and so many different places including our first trip to our resoort house in Toyama!


Apr. 2022

- We rent the second resort house in Ome, and held BBQ parties as an opening event. A lot of members came joined and secretly planned a celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary. Even though it was a free-of-charge event, many members voluntarily paid more than they should.


Jul. 2022 - Sep. 2022

- We hosted many summer events, but two camping events were hit by typhooon attacks.

- Again, we had a very tough time financially.


Oct. 2022 - Dec. 2022

- We had ten to twenty members coming to some of our events that finally generated a little profit.

- We started a new English study program named Read Headline News and offered members a month free trial.


Jan. 2023

- We rent a free parking lot, thanks to the owner of the convenience stores!

- To make use of the snow gears we invested two years ago, we launched skiing and snowboarding tours.


Feb. 2023

- As the general public regained strength to go out and hang out energetically, we decided to reform our community service accordingly.


    So here we are!


    Financially, we haven't gained any in the past three years. No, not at all. Our bank account still marks only five digits at the end of each month, and this month, again, we probably need to take out a petty loan until we can get some monthly sales transferred into our account next month. Income-wise, we are apparently a loser.


    However, the assets accumulated in the past three years were not small. We own the bus and two resort houses both in great locations, and we have expanded the range of activities we can enjoy together such as supping and snowboarding. We have great knowledge about the tour destinations, and our physical and mental health conditions being the highest ever. And last but not least, we kept our friendship alive together with all the members!


    Did we lose, or did we gain? Oh well, while we had to bear the cost it took, at least it seems those dark period that separated us brought us some additional values we can all appreciate!


1. What have you lost, and what have you gained in the past three years?