A series of international events of World School Network, a project of Non Profit Organization ECOPLUS, was held in Tokyo and Niigata, Japan from 10th to 14th February 2007.
A series of international events of World School Network, a project of Non Profit Organization ECOPLUS, was held in Tokyo and Niigata, Japan from 10th to 14th February 2007 inviting 23 international guests from 4 countries.
In addition to presentation sessions and workshops, international guests visited schools and other places in Tokyo metropolitan area and shared their experiences with more than 1,000 students, educators and citizens.
Students and educators from Kenya, Palestine, Israel and Korea joined the presentation session and workshop held in Tokyo with Japanese participants. International guests moved to a mountainous village called Tochikubo in Minamiuonuma city, Niigata and learned Japanese traditional life which has been keeping harmonious relation with their environment for hundreds years.
At World School Network, several joint projects related on environment are going on, connecting students in the world from more than 10 countries and encouraging students to re-focus on their own area. This series were supported by Japan foundation and Nippon Koa Insurance company.
For these events, a lot of paper works, coordinations, telephone calls, fax exchanges and others were needed for acceptance of international guests because of financial and political situations specially in Kenya and Middle East. One of two students invited from Palestine were not able to pass the border to Jordan by very bureaucratic reasons and a mother of only one student who successfully visited Japan needed to stay in Jordan until her son came back from Japan for ten days by strange regulations.
Various activities at the events are available at following URL.
Tochikubo has a beautiful scenery looking down entire Minamiuonuma area over its own terraced rice paddies.
Opposite side of the valley from Shimizu, over 60 families are living in this mountainous village.
At this elementary school, only 10 children are being taught by 7 teachers. This place is also covered by over 4 meter of snow.
Next to the village, there are skying slopes and close to the town, many villagers commute to their work place. Rice paddies are continuously spreading along the slope of the hills and people use snow-free season fully for rice growing.
Beech forest are covering the mountains and mountain goats and endangered butterflies are easily observed. Salamanders are found in fresh streams.
Number of children is decreasing and aging of the community is proceeding, so villagers are wondering about the future of their community.
Shimizu is the last village to the mount Makihata which is acclaimed one of the best 100 mountains in Japan.
At shimizu, Less than 20 households are living calmly surrounded by beautiful forest.
There was a pass way connecting Echigo and Kanto area through Shimizu village and this village saw some tycoons and their samurais moving toward Kanto area for their battle.
Elevation is around 600 meters and in the winter season easily over 4 meter of snow covers the village.
The blanch school had closed 20 years ago and very limited number of children are living here.
Aged 20 families are just staying here. Slopes are steep so that rice paddies are not easy to set.
Lumbering business is dying away pressed by cheap imported materials. Maintenance work for high voltage power lines which had been supporting the village economy is shrinking hard because of advancement of remote monitoring technology. The future of the village is really on the edge.
On the other hand, nature of the mountain is still health. Mountain goats, monkeys and bears are walking around the village. Villagers keep their own way of life collecting mountain vegetables in the spring and variety of mushrooms in the fall.