ECOPLUS conducted its flagship program, Yap-Japan Cultural Exchange Program 2018 from 18 to 29 August with nine students from high school to university in Dechumur village, Tamil, Yap. Provided cooked and un-coocked food like bread fruit, taro, fishes, crabs and others, students learnt a lot of locals skills like, weaving coconuts fronds or fishing in the ocean.
The Program started 1992 and since then ECOPLUS continued the program almost every year. For Dechumur village, it was the first time to host the group.
The base of the program was the women’s house of the village. Next to the concrete building, local toilet, shower room and cooking place were set. Next to the toilet, some trees had very soft leaves called “toilet leaf,” so students used those for their daily use. It was easily degraded rather than toilet paper. Low impact was one of the key words of the program.
One of the most impressive experiences was homestay. Each student was accepted by a different family for 2 nights. Modern economy and culture are changing Yap’s traditional lifestyle but the situations are different family by family. A host family was living in thatched roof houses under a huge tree and another host family has electric washing machine. However, family ties are quite strong in all families. During the stay, some families held a celebrating gathering. Through the stay, student impressed by the strong bond among the family members.
Having so many new experiences, like going to fish with local boys in the lagoon, hunting crabs in night time, being surprised the brightness of the moon, students safely return to Narita airport in the morning of 29 August. From students, such comments were continued. “It looks like the program is not yet terminated. We will digest so many things we learnt and those will guide us toward the our own lives for long time.”
They will work together to make an activity report of the program and will held a reporting session in late autumn.
Saturday, 21 January 2017, Room 8101, Ikebukuro Campus, Rikkyo University
Sunday, 22 January 2017, International Conference Centre, Waseda University
This symposium offers an arena to discuss the topics from learning to democracy– how do we see the relationship between the expansion of globalism and the local community where people have lives, and how can we truly recognize essence from abundant information due to the digital society under which people sometimes feel as if we know everything, and how do we build up local community and society under these circumstances.
We have three keynote speakers; a political scientist from New Zealand whose research falls in children, environment and democracy under this changing world; a German architect who is working for re-birthing Japanese traditional wooden housings; and a Japanese photographer who has done many journeys including world conflicts areas.
Other participants involved in various fields are expected to attend, including “Forest Kindergarten” (a kindergarten raising children in nature), self-sufficiency life with small-scale agriculture, revitalization of the community, etc. We are looking forward to welcoming you to this event.
Dr. HAYWARD Bronwyn, Head of Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Mr. BENGS Karl, architectural designer, Germany (currently living in Japan)
Mr. MOMOI Kazuma, photographer, nonfiction writer, Japan
The simultaneous translation (Jap – Eng) available for keynote speeches and panel discussion, and other form of translation may be arranged for break-up sessions
Overarching theme: Globalisation and Place-based education
Sub themes: virtual experiences, local area and school, livelihood, community and child rearing
Keynote 1: Prof. HAYWARD Bronwyn, political scientist, New Zealand
“Children and Citizenship: the global challenge in an urban century”
Keynote 2: Mr. BENGS Karl, architectural designer, Germany (resides in Japan)
“Revival of old Japanese houses – Why Japanese throw away ‘gems’ and take up gravel”
Keynote 3: Mr. MOMOI Kazuma, photographer, nonfiction writer, Japan
“Ladakh, India – traditional societies protected or vanished”
Break-up sessions (Themed seminars)
Session 1: What do you mean by “I understand” – in the time of virtual experiences
Session 2: Community and School – folding school down
Session 3: Economy of live and living
Session 4: Community and child rearing – experiences of forest kindergarten
Schedule: The timing may change on the day.
Day 1 (Jan 21) at Rikkyo University
10:10 Keynote 1
11:10 Keynote 2
12:05 – 13:15 Lunch break
13:15 Keynote 3
14:00 Introduction of the break-up sessions, and move to respective rooms
16:00 Re-union; sharing and summary
17:30 Reception (with fees)
Day 2 (Jan 22) at Waseda University
10:00 Opening, Panel discussion 1 – based on questions and issues of Day 1
12:00 – 13:30 Talking lunch – discussion with guests and other attendees, over your own packed lunch.
13:30 Panel discussion 2 – gathering topics from the lunch discussion
15:30 Summary and closure
Prof. ABE Osamu, Rikkyo University
Prof. ANDO Toshihiko, Saitama University
Dr. ITAGAKI Jumpei, Kobe University
Dr. KIMATA Mikio, Fellow, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Dr. SASAKI Toyoshi, Kurikoma Kogen Nature School
Mr. SAKUMA Norio, Nature Conservation Society for Dewa Mountains
Dr. TOYODA Mitsuyo, Niigata University
Mr. YOKOYAMA Ryuichi, Nature Conservation Society Japan
Prof. TAKANO Takako, Waseda University, Executive Director, Ecoplus
Supported by Japan Fund for Global Environment
Research Center for Education for Sustainable Development, Rikkyo University.
Center for International Education, Waseda University
From March 26th to the 29th, 2016, ECOPLUS hosted the “Yuki Zanmai,” or “Snow Indulgence” Camp in Minami-Uonuma. Seven participants, all from elementary and middle schools in the Metropolitan area and Niigata enjoyed four days and three nights of living on the snow, where they all constructed their campsite entirely on their own.
This winter, we experienced an uncharacteristically small amount of snow. Despite being 600 meters above sea level, the village of Shimizu looked almost as though it was experiencing early spring.
Ordinarily, there would have been between 2 3 meters of snowfall by this point during an average year; instead, the area received an approximate 50 centimeters of snow this year. Due to this, we were worried that the Snow Indulgence Camp might not succeed, but we were blessed with good weather, and the children faced the challenge of living in the snow with a serious, sincere look in their eyes.
A total of seven children was assembled of from fourth-year elementary school students to first-year middle school students. Some of the children had participated in ECOPLUS programs once or twice before, but this was their first time as a group in this area, as well as the first time holding an overnight camp on the snow. Everybody had a bit of a nervous look to him or her.
The children decided on their goals for the campsome said, It is important to take care of the environment, while others said, We hope to make friends here. Once this was done, the Snow Indulgence Camp could begin.
Throughout the next four days, the childrens everyday necessities and personal lives were self-led. They trampled the snow underfoot in order to harden it, creating a space to raise their tents; they split wood for their fires; they melted snow for drinking water; and they made tables, chairs, cupboards for food, and even makeshift toilets entirely from snow. They even used snow to wipe their bottoms afterward!
They also used cedar leaves like sponges while washing their pots and pans. On the first day of the camp program, the children were confused about this new way of living, but they became as resilient as adults in only four days time.
From the 9th of January to the 11th, ECOPLUS held our program, “Experiencing Natural Mountain Life: Winter Edition”, in Tochikubo village in Niigata prefecture.
The program was aimed at elementary school children, and we had 17 participants. Thirteen of them were city kids from metropolitan area, and the other four were students from Niigata prefecture.
The weather was thankfully very calm throughout, and everybody enjoyed getting to play in the snow under the blue sky.
We started the first day with many nervous faces when we conducted the orientation. The orientation began with self-introductions and some games. Afterwards we covered important things to be careful about and to watch out for. Lastly we broke them up into two groups regarding daily responsibilities, and gave some time for the two groups to discuss things together.
From the afternoon onwards, they were waiting in anticipation to be able to play in the snow. The snow was approximately 40cm deep, and when they finally could, they eagerly changed into their snow gear.
This was actually significantly less snow than on average. Regardless, for the kids the world still seemed to be completely covered in snow. They made snow huts (these snow huts, kamakura are traditionally made by kids in mid-January), had snow ball fights, and sled. The local kids even joined them in on the fun. The sound of laughing children echoed in the village.
On the second day we focused on observing nature. A local knowledgeable about the nature here accompanied us as a special guest. On the snow covered path he led us to the outskirts of the village. There we were able to get a phenomenal view of the mountains and forest. We even were able to see a very rare bird, a Tinnitus Mountain Hawk, perched on one of the mountain trees.
The kids were fascinated by the bird. After getting a telescope to confirm that it actually was a Tinnitus Mountain Hawk, we examined it for a while. For around half an hour it stayed in the same spot. When it finally flew away we could see the striped pattern of its back feathers. The kids tried to follow the bird until it disappeared from sight.
For the three days of the program, we borrowed the villageÆs assembly hall, and camped in there. The kids were responsible for cooking their own meals. For the most part, everything from cutting the ingredients, to cooking them, was done completely by them with some supervision.
On the last day, our closing event was a discussion and retrospective. While a completely new experience for many of the children, they spoke very fondly of the past three days. One kid enthusiastically said, ôSince I am an only child, it was especially fun to spend time here with lots of friendsö. Most of the other responses were quite similar.
From March 26th to the 29th, we will be holding a similar event, but this time aimed at older students. ôExperiencing Natural Mountain Life: Lingering Snow Seasonö will be open for 5th graders to high school students. We will tent over the snow for three nights and four days. We are eagerly awaiting this upcoming program.
On July 3-5, 25 international students and staff from Waseda University arrived in Minamiuonuma City as part of its Summer Session, visiting Tochikubo on the 4th. ECOPLUS supported their activities.
On July 3-5, 25 international students and staff from Waseda University arrived in Minamiuonuma City as part of its Summer Session, visiting Tochikubo on the 4th. ECOPLUS supported their activities. With activities such as walking the area, visiting homes, and enjoying local food, they had a chance to learn about Japanese traditional village life.
The students were from 9 countries and area like the US, the UK, and China. They stayed with host families in Minamiuonuma for two nights. While some students could speak a little Japanese, many could not. Because they had many different backgrounds, they had varying perspectives on what they saw, heard, and felt here.
The activities in Tochikubo began at 8:45 with the participants, taken there by their host families, gathered at the top of a mountain of 700 meters. The panoramic view was shrouded in clouds, creating an almost dream-like vista.
Two interns students of ECOPLUS spoke briefly about Tochikubo, mentioning the population size and elevation as well as industries such as the ski slopes, and of course, the rice fields. As we walked down the mountain, Takako Takano, Professor at Waseda and executive director of ECOPLUS, pointed out notable plants like heartleaf, called Dokudami, a plant that has many medicinal properties.
After a sumptuous lunch prepared by local women, the students were divided into different groups and helped visited local homes with a variety of tasks. The group I went with weeded a garden and tasted freshly-grown cucumbers. They asked many questions and really immersed themselves in the experience.
When finished working with the villagers, they gathered again on the second floor of the community center and watched a video and a presentation by the interns about their experiences over these eight weeks in Tochikubo. The students then had some time for questions and discussion, which proved very enlightening – a student from England commented on the differences between the Japanese and British countryside, and a Chinese student said that she was surprised at the cleanliness and level of development in Japanese rural areas.
At 4:15 it was time for them to return to their host families. Through being here and interacting with people, they had the chance to genuinely experience life in rural Japan. Based on what I saw and heard, I think they had an excellent learning experience.
On 11-12 Jan 2015, International Symposium \”ESD and Place-based Education\” was held in National Olympic Memorial Youth Center, Tokyo, Japan. Guest speakers and participants both exchange ideas and opinions about outdoor education, environmental education, community, sustainability and the place.
Over 100 participants from students to community leaders, researchers, and practitioners attended the conference. In the afternoon of Sunday, the conference opened with keynote speeches of three guest-speakers form the world.
Prof. Pete Higgins of Edinburgh University reported the situation on Learning for Sustainability, LfS in Scotland. He showed a photo of canoeing class in river Spey and said it is not just for the canoeing skills. We talked about many things, from climate change, history, geography, culture, law, or economics. He stressed the value of Place-based Education and said the planet is the place in this time.
Dr. Ihi Heke from New Zealand talked about a challenge of Maori people to reconnect their tradition and nature into learning. He pointed out that the current society is occupied by Western way of thinking. With governmental support he is setting up a curriculum based on Maori wisdom based on constellations, water and the land.
Dr. Jess Salathong from Thailand introduced some activities in ASEAN countries. He also explained cases of ESD in Thailand and said that at the base of ESD Program in Thailand, the principle, \”Sufficient Economy,\” exists. His photo of a wind turbine at the palace in Bangkok raised by the King for the promotion of sustainable development dragged attentions from the audience.
During the panel discussion followed the keynote speeches, Prof. Abe Osamu of Rikkyo University argued the relation between GLOBAL and LOCAL and audience joined the discussion.
On 12th, Mr. Suzuki Shigeo, Mayor of Kuzumaki Town, gave his speech with the title of the power of mountainous village. He introduced a history of a town with 6,854 people tried to find and to use what they have within the area and now the town grew to \”Milk, Wine and Clean Energy\” town. Its sufficiency on food and energy are over 100% and a new system of its high school inviting students from city area is to start this year, he said.
Then, participants separated into three sectional workshops; Life and Learning, Outdoor/Experiential Education and Place, Public Education and place, and exchanged opinions. After those, concluding session was took place and finished the conference at around 3 p.m…
Participants say; it was encouraging to hear about Scotland\’s situation, which moves the politics to LfS. / the important thing is what to put on the root of education. Maori has 24 views on the world and tries to connect them with education / Kuzumaki\’s attempt is a good stimulation for other mountainous villages. / Many participant\’s discussion from different backgrounds made the symposium full of diversity.
ECOPLUS will publish a report on March. Photos and some reports are on our facebook page.
Video of keynote speeches are available from following URL.
The panel discussion is also seen from the URL
People from city area including from Australia, Bosnia, Canada, and other countries enjoyed rice harvesting workshop.
People from city area including from Australia, Bosnia, Canada, and other countries enjoyed rice harvesting workshop, a part of \”ABC\” in a rice paddy program, last weekend, 11-12 October in Tochikubo, Niigata.
Those, from 8 nations including Japan, gathered at the community center of the village at 1 pm on Saturday. Mr. FUEKI Akira, one of the local leaders, introduced brief history of the village since \”Sengoku-Jidai,\” or worriers period about 500 years ago.
In the class after the walk, Mr. FUEKI talked about rice faming from business perspectives. According to him, selling price to \”Nokyo,\” or the Farmers Association, is 15,000 JPY per 60 kg, Production from a rice paddy of 1,000 sq. meter would be like 540 kg and total income from one standard paddy would be 135,000 JPY. One family in the village owns 1 ha of the rice paddies in average. So total income to one family from rice would be 1,350,000 JPY although for that farming machines which need millions of yen for each each.
Based on those factors they exchanged opinions over the rice farming and the future of Japanese rural societies.
(Read more on following page)
On 1st February, ECOPLUS holds an international symposiumCommunity, Place and Learningat Rikkyo University, Tokyo. With special guest speakers from Australia and Hawaii, the symposium will provide us an opportunity to consider the way to combine Place and Learningfor sustainable living.
With distinguished researchers and practitioners, ECOPLUS has undertaken a 3-year project to explore the meanings ofPlace-based Educationin modern context in Japan. With special guest speakers from Australia and Hawaii, the symposium will provide us an opportunity to consider the way to combine Place and Learningfor sustainable living.
*Date: 1st February (Wed), 2014
*Place: Rikkyo University Tachikawa Memorial Hall (Tokyo, Ikebukuro)
*Guest Speakers: Dr. Ron Tooth (Principal of Pullenvale Environmental Education Centre, Australia)
Ms. Kukui Maunakea-Forth (Executive Director of Waianae Community Re-Development Corporation, Hawaii)
*Commentators: Dr. Peter Renshaw (Head of School of Education, Queensland University, Australia)
*Organizers: ECOPLUS / Rikkyo University Research Center for ESD
*Supported by Japan Outdoor Education Society / The Japanese Society of Environmental Education
*Funded by Japan Fund for Global Environment (JFGE)
November 16-18, 2013, Annual Kiyosato Meeting was held in Kiyosato, Yamanashi. Over 200 people involved in environmental education gathered at same place and ECOPLUS made presentation and workshop focus on PBE (Place-based Education) to the participants. A lot of people discussed about what is \”root in the place\”.
Novemver 16-18, 2013, Japan Environmental Education Forum(JEEF) held 27th \”KIYOSATO MEETING\” in Yamanashi Pref.
Over 200 people gathered from all across Japan and had workshops, presentations and information exchange.
ECOPLUS gave \”3-hour Workshop\”, \”10-min Presentation\” and \”Booth Exhibition\” on Place-based Education(PBE).
In \”10-min Presentation\” part, 27 organizations and individuals gave audience brief presentations. Mr. Mizumura from ECOPLUS introduced PBE basics and committee activities of these 3 years. Stimulating theme collected over 50 audience to the booth.
\”3-hour Workshop\” on second day gathered 33 participants. Mr. Ohmae, General Manager of ECOPLUS introduced PBE idea, world\’s trend and ECOPLUS\’s activities. After comments from Dr. Abe (Rikkyo University) and Mr. Takagi(NPO Neos), workshop moved to group discussion.
In each group, members discussed and introduced; their activities, necessity to \”rooted in place\”, relationship between cities and countrysides, why young generation goes to city after studying, citizenship and so on.
Lastly, each person filled a comment sheet, which says \”What is \”rooted in the place\”\”. Some answers are; \”notice, learn, change and continue\”, \”to have a place to die, make place to own hometown\”, \”people live in the regions take activities as their own matters\”, etc.
ECOPLUS\’s committee on PBE with 7 professionals to build \”a model of PBE\” will hold a international symposium and last session on 1st February 2014 at Rikkyo University.