Yap-Japan Youth Exchange program 2013

Yap- Japan Youth exchange 2013 was held from 20th August to 1st of September in Maaq village in Yap with 12 Japanese youth, learning the skills and knowledges of life close to the nature.

Local foods, like taro, bread fruit and fishes filled the dinner table every day.
Local foods, like taro, bread fruit and fishes filled the dinner table every day.

Yap- Japan Youth exchange 2013 was held from 20th August to 1st of September in Maaq village in Yap with 12 Japanese youth, learning the skills and knowledges of life close to the nature.
5 girls and 7 boys from 16 to 25 year old participated the program.

The group stayed in a village of Maaq, Tomil in Yap island. This was the 6th host of the program for the village which lies in the beautiful seaside mangrove forest.

At the final farewell party, villagers and Japanese participants danced together.
At the final farewell party, villagers and Japanese participants danced together.

Read more on the following page,

Second session was held in Kosuge, Yamanashi

The second session of \”Place-based Education\” Project was held on 30th-31st, July in Kosuge village, Yamanashi.

The second session was held in Kosuge village, Yamanashi prefecture on 30-31st July. Three committee members, Dr. Kimata, Mr. Yokoyama, Mr. Sakuma participated in the session.

Kosuge has a headstream of Tama river which supplies drink water to Tokyo area. On 30th, members visited around the village and saw a closed elementary school, which is now used as a place for interaction between locals and universities in Tokyo area. At the village office, members got lectures about educational activities from village officers and related organizations. At night, members had a discussion with local people, some of them had moved in from Tokyo. They introduced their activities on \”food\”, \”farming\”, \”experience in nature\” and so on.

The committee is planning next discussion session in Kyushu in September, as well as symposium in Rikkyo university (Ikebukuro Tokyo) on 1st February 2014.

The local symposium was taken place at Oguni-machi, Nishiokitama-gun, Yamagata

The first local symposium was held at Oguni-machi, Nishiokitama-gun, Yamagata from Saturday, June 8th to Sunday, 9th 2013 as one of the third year’s activities throughout Japan.
The first local symposium was held at Oguni-machi, Nishiokitama-gun, Yamagata from Saturday, June 8th to Sunday, 9th 2013 as one of the third year’s activities throughout Japan.
On the first day, we went to Kirisutokyo Dokuritu Gakuen, that has Christian ethics for nearly 80 years, and heard the explanation with Mr. Yamaguchi, who is a vice-town mayor. Then we also went and saw ex-Kotamagawa elementary school, that had been closed despite of renovation under advanced idea and now is used as an atelier by an artist.
On the second day, we had the local symposium. Takano explained the activities done in previous two years, and were given case reports from Mr. Inoue, who runs Kodomoen at Kaneyama-machi, Yamagata and Mr. Nishina in Oguni-machi. After that we had discussion under the following themes, “sustainable society,” “environmental education” and “community-based.”

International Symposium “Challenges and Possibillities of Place-Based Education”

Mr. Chatterjee gave presentation sometimes using his fluent Japanese.
Mr. Chatterjee gave presentation sometimes using his fluent Japanese.

January 27th, 2013, International Symposium \”Challenges and Possibilities of Place Based Education\” was held in Tokyo. About 70 People involved in Outdoor Education, Environmental Education, Academic field, Students gathered and made discussion.

January 27th, 2013, About 70 people gathered in Rikkyo University (Tokyo) and made a constructive discussion about \”Place-Based Education\”.

In panel discussion section, many participants including students raise questions.
In panel discussion section, many participants including students raise questions.

In Keynote Lecture, our special guest Mr. Ardhendu Chatterjee gave a presentation about current Indian Educational situation, Importance of education in regional society especially Agricultural aspect.
Next, Takako TAKANO, chair of Ecoplus, presented 2-year-project status and introduced the result of questionair which were gatherd from schools and educational organization all over Japan.

In Case Report Section in the afternoon, Mr. Hasegawa (Suyama Junior High School, Shizuoka), Mr. Inoue (Kodomo-en \”Mego-Tama\”, Kanagawa), Mr.Sakamoto (Nome Nature/Environment Educational Office, Katsuyama, Fukui) made presenataions about their daily work.

Lastly in Panel Discussion Section, Mr. Chatterjee and PBE committee members sit on the stage and discussed with audience for more than two hours. Some young generation audience asked about a mind concern Environment and Sustainable Society, definition of Region.

Ecoplus will make a report on this symposium. Please contact info@ecoplus.jp for distribution.

Also, The Symposium is uploaded in Ustream.
(Panel Discussion)

Learning life in snow village through snow shoveling

The participants and the villagers after the 2-day workshop.
The participants and the villagers after the 2-day workshop.

On Jan. 28th to 29th, ECOPLUS organized a workshop on snow shoveling in Shimizu, Minami-uonuma City. The villagers taught 13 participants from Kanto area and Minami-uonuma city about safety in working with heavy snow. The visitors were exposed to the culture of snow village.


Some removed snow from the top of the public toilet hut in the community.
Some removed snow from the top of the public toilet hut in the community.

A total of 13 participants aged 30\’s – 50\’s gathered from Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Gunma, Tochigi and Shizuoka Prefecture, as well as Minami-uonuma city, Niigata Prefecture.

On the first day, the locals lectured on snow shoveling, including safety skills and how to use the tools properly. By using shovels, snow-dumps and Koshiki, a traditional wooden snow shovel which looks like a big wooden-paddle, they learned the technique to work with snow while practicing around houses, the public toilet, etc.
You can read a detailed program report from the link below.

Serious discussions on \”Place- and Community- Based Education\” in Tokyo

Keynote speaker: Prof. Greg Smith
Keynote speaker: Prof. Greg Smith

With Prof. Greg Smith from the United States, the symposium \”Place and Education\” was held at Rikkyo University, Tokyo, on January 21st, 2012.

Including non-Japanese nationals, a wide range of people participanted in the event at Tachikawa Memorial Hall, Rikkyo University.

Greg Smith, a researcher of \”Place- and Community-Based Education\” at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, the US, gave an opening keynote lecture.

Firstly, Prof. Smith pointed out that \”placelessness of modern society and isolation of place and society is a global phenomena. As global culture that is disengaged from nature and tradition has been increasing in many countries, there is a growing tendency among young generation to have little concern about local issues\”.
The tendency was suggested by American educationalist, John Dewey, more than a half century ago that the great waste of school is its \”inability to utilize the experiences children gets outside the school in any complete and free way within the school itself\”.

Following the argument, he introduced some examples across the US to reconnect local society and schools. For instance, in Massachusetts, high school students found that a higher proportion of asthma in their region was caused by the gas emissions from vehicles. They investigated the issue and made a plan for improving the environment, including a suggestion to the local school bus center to reduce the length of time to idle the engines. As a result, the center al


tered the bus fuel from light diesel oil to natural gas. Through the examples, Prof. Smith explained that young people learned about their own local nature, the environment, society and tradition in the process of investigation of the local issues, and became a part of the communities.

About 100 people with concern gathered at Tachikawa Memorial Hall, Rikkyo university.
About 100 people with concern gathered at Tachikawa Memorial Hall, Rikkyo university.

Accordingly, Dr TAKANO Takako introduced the brief overview of the history of \”Place-Based Education\” both in Japan and the world.
TAKANO mentioned that from Meiji to Taisho era, there was also a movement in Japan that focused on communities, such as \”education of soil\” and \”homeplace education\”, and after the World War II, pollution education became popular across the nation which was led to environmental education. However, community or society education has remained divorced from the school education, and community retired to the background of education.

In the afternoon, Prof. ABE Osamu of Rikkyo University, Prof. KIMATA Mikio of Tokyo Gakugei University and SAKUMA Norio of Conservation Society of Dewa-Sanzan introduced respectively examples of current Japanese \”Place-Based Education\”.

Lastly, Prof. ANDO Toshihiko of Saitama University moderated the discussion with SASAKI Toyoshi of Kurikoma-Kogen Nature School and Greg Smith participated as a panel. The discussion on \”Place-Based Education\” was lively with exchanging ideas and opinions with the audience.

Followings are the video recordings of the symposium;
Keynote lecture by Greg Smith

The other footage about \”Place-Based Education\” symposium:

20 people enjoyed the culture and life in Tochikubo at the “ABC in a rice paddy” program.

A total of 20 people, including company workers, students, and families from various countries,visited Tochikubo, Niigata Prefecture from Tokyo metropolitan area. They enjoyed walking around the area and rice planting over the weekend.
The holiday agricultural project, ABC in a rice paddy, was held on 21 and 22 of May. It is a series of programs throughout the year, and this time, the first occasion of the year, was about rice planting.
On the first day, participants went for a walk in Tochikubo area with a villager, FUEKI Akira. From the centre of village to the top of Mt Taru, 736m, they enjoyed encounters with varieties of mountain vegetables and some rare wildlife. Although it was summer-like hot, they managed to reach the peak and one participant said \”When I stood at the top and saw how far we have come, I felt that I had achieved something\”.
After coming back from the mountain, they had a lecture and learned about the different types of rice seedlings, process of rice farming without any chemicals and pesticides, history and current challenges of rice farming in Tochikubo.


A snap from bird watching session in the early morning. Local children also joined it and enjoyed together.
A snap from bird watching session in the early morning. Local children also joined it and enjoyed together.

On the second day, early in the morning, most participants and some locals joined a bird watching session by FUKASAWA Kazuki. Despite of poor visibility due to mist and rain, his knowledge helped participants have a great time. At the very moment he talked about the sound of rare bird species, Akashobin (ruddy kingfisher), participants actually heard it. Whenever someone or Fukasawa found wildlife such as frogs, salamanders, and insects in the water, he provided an instant lecture about the features and ecosystem of them.
Rice planting began, having waited for the rain to calm down. It was well-supported by locals as participants learned a traditional way to band rice plants with straws, and planted them. They went into a rice paddy together with baskets filled with bunches of rice seedlings.


After rice planting. People from various countries participated in the program.

At lunch time, a group formed by local women called \”Kaachanz\” (Team-mothers) served miso soup with lots of local vegetables and dried fish. Everyone appreciated the soup as it warmed up their cold body from inside. Many people went into the kitchen to have the second of the miso soup.
Participants continued planting rice in the afternoon, and managed to finish the whole paddy around 2:30. They got a compliment from a local person on how straight they could plant.
Thanks to the knowledge and skills of local people, ABC in a rice paddy in 2011 has been kicked off!

ECOPLUS activities in Tohoku-Pacific Coast Earthquake

ECOPLUS is supporting the disaster relief activities of Ecotourism Japan which is going on at the disaster-stricken areas in Tohoku. Ecotourism Japan is sending volunteers in evacuation shelters around Tome city, Miyagi, to distribute aid supplies, relief goods, the other necessities of life. Disaster relief donations are accepting at the following accounts. We ask for your cooperation.

*Bank Name: Mizuho Bank, Dozaka Branch
  Account Number: normal 1093812
  Account Name: Ecotourism Japan Disaster Relief Fund

*Bank Name: Japan Post Bank
  Account Number: 00150-2-543633
  Account Name: NPO Ecotourism Japan
  Please write \”Disaster Relief Fund\” in the memo line.

As a member of Minami-uonuma Disaster Relief Volunteer Network, ECOPLUS is now distributing disaster related information and coordination among network members. We’re preparing to accept and support the victims of the disaster in Minami-uonuma. We will inform various related informations on our website and mail magazine.

Discussing the way to improve outdoor and environmental education with Professor Peter Higgins

 The seminar with Professor Peter Higgins of Edinburgh University, Scotland, was held on February 4th 2011 in Omote-sando, Tokyo, regarding the significance and the challenges of outdoor and environmental education.


Prof. Higgins lectured at GEOC using Powerpoint.
Prof. Higgins lectured at GEOC using Powerpoint.

 36 people, mainly the outdoor and environmental educators, gathered at Global Environmental Outreach Centre (GEOC) on February 4th, 2011, for the seminar with Professor Peter Higgins.

 Prof. Higgins suggested that outdoor/experiential education influences emotional growth and health for many of us. He emphasized that outdoor education in modern days has to consider social and economic structure of global society.

 He pointed out that all educators should teach that various concepts are closely linked and the world today is very complex. Learning to respond for a change and hope for the future is needed, as well as the consequences of our actions.

 Having reported the educational policy changes and the recent trend around outdoor education in Great Britain, he introduced the practical examples from Scotland, which have shifted its focus from school-based to more local and outdoor elements oriented.

 Mr. Ono who is in charge of promoting the experiential activities at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology summarized the trend among Japanese young people today linked to experiences in general. He suggested that the participation rate of elementary school students in outdoor activities are declining year by year. For example, in recent 10 years children who have swum in the sea and the river has decreased rapidly from 30 % to 10 %.

36 participants gathered at the seminar.
36 participants gathered at the seminar.

 A discussion with the participants followed the two talks by Prof. Higgins and Mr. Ono. Issues raised included the necessity for a outdoor learning training course for teachers, how to secure the financial resources for outdoor education, the importance of outdoor experiences for parents, how to train the leaders of outdoor education, etc.

 Prof. Higgins emphasized the importance of research to prove the educational effect of children’s play and the necessity of outdoor experiences for parents. Finally he commented on the significance of accumulation of study results to further improve outdoor education.

50 people attended at the educational symposium in Minami-uonuma City with Professor Peter Higgins

Professor Higgins lectured in Minami-uonuma.
Professor Higgins lectured in Minami-uonuma.

 On February 6th 2011, ECOPLUS organized educational symposium titled ‘Self reliance of the local community and the power of learning’ in Minami-uonuma, Niigata with Professor Peter Higgins of Edinburgh University, Scotland.
 The symposium, held on February 6th at the auditorium of Minami-uonuma regional development bureau, attracted 49 participants including educators, city council members, and the residents of Tochikubo and Shimizu Village. Some came over from Tokyo metropolitan area.

Participants enjoyed exchanging ideas with others.
Participants enjoyed exchanging ideas with others.

 At the first session, ECOPLUS reported the activities of TAPPO and the study result which demonstrated the educational values of rural villages based on questionnaires and interviews of the program participants as well as involved villagers. At the second session, Prof. Higgins appealed the importance of outdoor and experiential education with the practical examples from Great Britain. Then the discussion among the participants followed.

 As the study result, Dr TAKANO Takako, Executive Director of ECOPLUS, reported that the participants‘ learning was linked to agriculture, living, and history of the village, which were based on the human-nature relationships, and their learning went beyond the life philosophy and values. She pointed out that rural village itself was full of learning elements.

 Prof. Higgins commented that TAPPO’s activities are the leading models in educational movement around the world, which connects the local community with school, children with adults, and social education with school education.

 Prof. Higgins lectured about the effects of outdoor and environmental education, and the connection with the local community. He introduced the words by John Dewey, ‘Education is not a preparation for life, it is life itself’, and continued to say that, for a growth of oneself, it is necessary to learn for the heart, then for the body, and finally for the brain in that order. He explained that just a thrilled experience doesn’t require efforts, and that therefore it hardly involves the sense of responsibility. It is necessary to spend a lot of time to think and strive for oneself.

 He said experience in nature increases concentration, reduces stress, and improves a problematic behavior. He introduced a concept of green, white, blue, and dark space, and emphasized that Minami-uonuma has green space, snowy white environment, beautiful blue sky and darkness at night, which makes Minami-uonuma a perfect place for learning.

 He also pointed out that place-based education should include not only nature but culture of a place, enterprise for self-reliance, and citizenship to take responsibility for ‘something bigger than themselves’.

 Then participants were divided into 10 groups, and exchanged ideas.
 A comment by high-school student struck everyone’s heart. She said ‘I had thought the education in big cities are far ahead of ours in rural area. But as I heard today’s discussion, I am convinced that it’s not true and there are lots of advantages in rural area. I’m very proud of this place.’ There was a round of applause as she finished her words.