Tokyo HackerSpace was founded immediately following a talk at Tokyo BarCamp by Mitch Altman in 2009. Initially meeting in restaurants around town, we officially held our first lesson "WTF is a Resistor" in the rec room of a church. Not long after, we convinced ourselves to collect the money necessary to rent a large space in one of the best neighborhoods in the city.
Thus, THS site 1 was born. It was a two story expat house, with parking and a back garden. A large kitchen, storage room for parts and member's boxes, and two large work rooms took up the first floor. On the second, we had three office spaces (formerly bedrooms) which we rented out to startups (or members with a lot of free cash on hand ;)
After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, THS really got going. We were collaborating with aid organizations to move materials, receiving shipments of aid from generous hackerspaces all over the world, and hacking away on projects that might help people up north.
The now well known Safecast organization called one of our upstairs offices home while we assisted and provided work space for them to innovate radiation monitoring, bringing it to the 21st century. They held many workshops, presentations and meetings in our space.
Eventually the lease ran out on that space, and the owner wanted to tear it down and put up an apartment block (It and the adjoining property also owned by them were the only two remaining stand alone houses in the neighborhood).
So we then moved into a temporary home in Shibuya, colocating with a sympathetic NGO (who's owner was a former member and casual visitor). During this time, we were somewhat limited in what we could get away with, since we were in a more formal office setting, complete with carpets and fancy meeting tables. We were the black sheep in the corner, making a mess. We appreciate the save, but knew we had to make an exit before friction got in the way of friendships.
We were fortunate in that one of our founders already had a garage space for her business. She had been sharing it with another business, who backed out, leaving her with the full cost of rent. It was logical and ideal for us to take over the vacated space. We now have a much smaller space than ever, BUT we can cut, drill, weld, burn and otherwise make messy messes and slightly dangerous dangers.
If you are ever in Tokyo, come meet us on a Tuesday night (or Wednesday, if you fancy a Japanese language challenge).