Hocco Sweets: Loving and Warm Café in Kochi  

By Mei Yokoyama

When we entered the classroom simulated like a cafe, “Welcome,” the clerk greeted us. Four days before ABILINPICS, three students were practicing to participate in the competition of the cafe service. They are students of the Higher Division of Kochi university-affiliated special education school. The role of the customer who is the teacher and other students order on the assumption that there are various patterns what customers want. They were practicing to be able to deal with every situation flexibly when we went.

Hocco sweets opened its grand opening on October 16, 2014, in collaboration with Kochi University. The shop is a café with a kitchen that makes authentic German confectionery and Swiss roll and other unbaked cake. Initially, it began as an employment study to show the community the business model of the workplace where people with disabilities work. It is probably the only effort nationwide in natural and public school that operationalization of on-the-job training and employs people without disabilities and graduates.

The students working at hocco sweets are four third-year students and four second-year students from the Higher Division of Kochi university-affiliated special education school. Throughout the year, Hocco is designed to provide the same experience both customer service and manufacturing. Also, it is tailor to the student’s situation and course what they want. Five people work for there in addition to the students, one customer, two in the kitchen, and two with disabilities.

On-the-job training is a class held in the high school to acquire working skills that will lead to work in the future. The students did customer service and manufacturing, woodworking and printing on Tuesday and Thursday during the afternoon and Friday all day in Kochi university-affiliated special education school. They can acquire communication skills and the ability to work all day long through work this activity.

Parents of a child with disabilities told me that “they come to be able to say to someone’s face, to greet their neighbors, and to treat things with care since they serve and manufacture at hocco sweets during work learning,” explained Ms. Tani, store manager, and teacher at the special needs school.

After graduation, almost all students work in general, such as ramen shops, cleaning, food, and manufacturing. Also, the employment rate is higher than the other the special needs school for intellectual disabilities. There is a second-year student who works serving in Osaka Osho on the workplace training. It is the result of learning to work at hocco sweets and experiencing ABILINPICS.

ABILYMPICS is a contest that the disabilities vie with one another occupation skills. Approximately 65 persons of teens to 70s participate in 9 events comprehends cafe service. There is the contest of Kochi prefecture held on July 6 this year.

At the cafe service department that the students were practicing, they were judged on manners, hygiene, and proper provision of order items.

At the ABILINPICS in last year, the student from this school participated in the national convention for the first time. He won the gold prize within many adults who have gained real experience in society and advanced to the national conference in Okinawa. The national convention became a free competition from an individual one. The number of guests increases and the open meeting have to cooperate with other people. Therefore, there were a lot of difficult things, but little by little, we were able to excellent service to the customer in three times.

“I was astonished when I saw the national convention that to be able to make it this far. Maybe, I had seen their ability low until then. I should have believed in their potential and raised them more.” Ms. Tani said.

At first time, it was difficult to take notes only on the main points because they need various response when customer order something. However, they have overcome numerous challenges through repeated practices. This experience would have been a drawer of their life because they could remember many things by repetition.

Three boys and two girls participate in ABLIPICS in this year. From this year, both individual and free at the cafe service department were held even in Kochi Prefecture, and they participated in both. The practice of ABLINPICS began in June when after school and during the usual on-the-job training. They changed the method based on the experience of the national convention last year. The result was one for the bronze medal, and three people gave the prize for a person’s effort in this year.
“The students are personality, and they have their charms. I’m glad to watch the children grow up.” Ms. Tani became the manager for two years ago. She is the store manager of Hocco and a teacher at a special needs school. Special needs school’s teacher can see students more than other school types. She also became a teacher because she wanted to know the students what they looked like in various situations, and she wanted to be deeply involved.
“It’s a precious experience for me because probably no one else is a teacher and a manager of confectionery shop where employs both of the people with disabilities and without it in Japan.” She said with a smile.

“There are a lot of things that are hard to do. I tell the staff with disabilities to improve the challenge when the staff gives me a challenge about them. At that time, it is important that the way of communicating. For example, the people with a disability might catch scolded and angry that something was told normally. Then, it is possible to tell it well by making it to the note like the letter instead of conveying it in the word. Other staff members also understand the characteristics, so they communicate using notes.” Ms. Tani said.

Specialties of hocco sweets are the Stollen made by Heinz winter only. Also, there are a lot of rare sweets such as limited on the day of the week and the season. Limited desserts and everything else is delicious, so people in Kochi have no choice but to visit. Of course, international customers are also welcome.

Heinz Ulrich Engelhardt is supervising German sweets in Hocco who has the national qualification of meister of the confectionery and breadmaking. He comes to arrange about products with the staffs and training of making once or twice for a year, and then create a new product and check the sweets could maintain original taste.

He came to supervise Hocco because no one else in Shikoku was a German pastry chef. Therefore, the person who was related hocco project in Kochi Prefecture contacted with him.

The German sweets selected why it might make disability’s idiosyncrasies without burden like a German sweet what the process and the quantity are decided.

“I would be delighted. It is satisfactory sweets for customers that they made,” he said.


  1. I’ve heard of Hocco Sweets before, but I didn’t know the details about it. Great article!!


  2. It is amazing work training and learning for people with disabilities to do their jobs as their work experience without ceiling.!


  3. I heard about this cafe before and I think this cafe and university are thought a lot about people with a diability. It is very good chance to them to experience and find what the want to do in the future.


  4. I think they have great ability to work even if they have disability. Serving sweets makes people who like sweets happy, so I think their job is very great. I thought I wanted to eat the sweets which were made in here someday.


  5. I have been Hocco Sweets cafe and I felt the aumosphere there and people were nice.
    I hope I can visit there again.


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