Throughout my teaching career, I strongly felt the activity of touching the nature was very important but not just looking at the surface through the video or printed word. I have joined the local nature observation group and I wanted to do something with using this experience. There is a word called “Satochi Satoyama” (undeveloped woodland near the populated area). When people get back to their hometown, people bring back agricultural products as for the souvenir. These vegetable and rice are produced in their hometown where is called “satochi satoyama”. We want people to pay attention to this area more and want them to realize this area is such an important place. In order to send this message, we opened the field in Fujiwara, Minakami-town.
At the end of each activity, all the children write their sentiments. One of the girls wrote “the wind felt so good” and this is the exact image of our organization. For the first couple of times, there are children who carry their portable games to the activity, but there are none of them to do this now. The senior children guide the new children very well. The communication between each child works better than with adults and the atmosphere becomes more comfortable.
Most of the parents want to join and learn the activities together with children. We do not ask parents just to send their kids to the activities. We want them to join and learn with the kids. The conversation of the parents and children will work in both directions throughout the common activity. This is not the nursery school where parents just pay some fee to leave children in the facility but this is a place both parents and children join participatory class together.
Are there any children who have changed throughout the activities?
There is a child who can take a leadership compare to before. He used to be a truant student. But he joined our activity positively. His parents took him to our organization first, but it had been changed. He can consider and understand how other children feel. Other children rely on him as well. I guess this is the place and time where he can show his feeling honestly and he can feel relaxed. There used to be the borders between each school, but there is none now.
We have a field in Fujiwara, Minakami-town, and there are many children who have different background. But they instantly get along together. The children who have difficulty expressing themselves and the truant children can get along together because the nature can be a mediator. We sit around the open hearth in the old folk house. We share very simple meal like just white rice and miso soup. We greet to the meal and enjoy the conversation. We wanted to contribute to the local area, so we tried local production for local consumption last year.
There is a child who did not come out to the ski trail for the first three years at the ski class. After the three years, he came out to the ski trail himself and enjoyed skiing. As the participants have changed and found their own place to stay, so maybe he felt safe. His personality became brighter and he can receive something with wide open mind. He can join the activity in a positive manner.
We do rice planting, crop paddy, and make a straw festoon every year. We want children to know how the rice is cultivated since we eat rice every day. There are many of the teachers from the nursery schools and kindergartens to attend. They bring back some rice seedling and cultivate at their schools. And at the end of the year, we make a straw festoon and this activity is the most popular among the year. There were about 130 people to attend in 2016. As for the paddy field experience, farmers at Joso-city, Ibaraki cooperates us.
We also breed some insects and fish. There are beetles in April, silk worms in May, and salmon in December. We hand out these creatures to the children in the kindergarten, nursery school, and elementary school as well as the members , and all the children seem very happy.
We visit the old folk house in April, July, and October. Last summer, there were about 30 people who stayed in there for an overnight. We had a great talk around the open hearth.
Two years ago, we climbed Mt. Fuji together with 24 members. As through accumulating these experiences of dealing the nature, stuff and member can see the next vision. We try to take in these wishes as much as possible.
As long as someone has a passion for the nature, I recommend to step into our world. It is not to receive something but to create together with stuff and children.
We keep in mind to experience the real nature. Let’s look, listen, and touch the real nature together with us!
I would be happy to see the children who want to work in the primary industry. I want them to hold a value in the primary industry. People say it is the mature society, but the core part of the society is always “the place where people can eat meal safely as usual”. Therefore, the peaceful time of maintaining the same life every day is the most important thing. To maintain the peaceful time for a long time, people have to realize that the foundation is located in the agriculture, the forestry industry, and the fisheries industry. There is a life in the center, and all the societies are around it. This is the entire image of our world.