YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Pediatricians and other members of a nonprofit group are preparing to open a retreat facility in Oiso, Kanagawa Prefecture, next year for children with serious illnesses or disabilities.

The Ocean View Forest, consisting of remodeled traditional Japanese-style houses on a hill overlooking Sagami Bay, is now accepting some guests on a trial basis to provide medical care for sick children in a comfortable, homey environment while at the same time allowing relatives who are taking care of them time to rest.

“We hope to make this a place where children come in contact with nature and it nurtures their strength to live,” said Hiromi Kai, 41, a key member of the foundation operating the project.

Relatives taking care of children suffering from serious diseases at home can’t take a break because there are no such facilities in Japan where they can temporarily leave their children, she said.

Minoru Mizusawa, 44, who took his 8-year-old daughter, who suffers from a physical disability, to the facility in early December, said: “Families with sick children tend to stay home a lot. I hope there will be more facilities like this.”

The facility, tentatively scheduled to open in fall 2012, will probably be the first facility of its kind in Japan, according to organizers.

Unlike conventional hospices that accept terminal-stage patients, it will accommodate children with illnesses of varying degrees.

Once the facility opens the organizers are planning to provide stays of around one week during which nurses will be always on hand to help.

Kai said she hopes to work with the local farming and fishing communities, who have been showing their support, to provide the children with such activities as harvesting oranges and fishing.

The foundation was formed in 2009 after Ryota Hosoya, deputy director at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, and others initiated an idea for a place like a second home for such families.

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