Ecoplus conducted “the camp in the deep snow” from Mar 21 to 24, 2023, in Shimizu village, in Niigata, Japan. Unfortunately we could not set the period including weekend, we had only four university students but they acquired a lot of knowledges and skills from the local people and enjoyed self build simple life on the snow for four days.
Although we had less snow than normal years In this winter, we had more than 1 meter of snow in Shimizu area. The weather conditions was dry and warm in early days, but later part we had not snow but rain.
In this camp, we slept in tents on the snow. We cooked on the snow making fire on the snow. We kept melting snow in a big pot on fire for drinking and cooking water. Students learnt how to use shovels for cutting snow to make objects such as tables and sitting place.
In the night of Mar 22, we had very clear sky without any clouds and the moon. So stars were sharp and bright filling all direction. Students laid on the snow for stargazing and they were excited to observe bright meteors.
In these convenient daily life environments, only with one action, we can get hot water, bright lights, and flash toilet instantly. Apart from such “convenient life,” we need to prepare fire wood, make fire, melt snow and play with its own creative ideas. Through such actions one by one, the faces of students changed clearly.
Local people kindly joined the program and vividly talked about the history, the nature, mountains, animals and life of the area. One of students commented that the life would be more free rather than just following a fixed path thought be “successful.“
ECOPLUS started its activity in 1992 and this year, 2022, is the 30 year anniversary. To celebrate this and to convey the appreciation to the continuous support to all, ECOPLUS will organize the “Grand Bazar of ECOPLUS” on Nov. 19 at Tokyo Women’s Plaza with streaming service in Tokyo.
Outline : All the related and interested persons join and exchange their ways of life in the relations with ECOCLUB, World School and other related activities of ECOPLUS, just like a bazar! Online streaming and conference room will be set. Date and Time : November 19, Satueday, 1:30 – 4:30 PM Venue : Tokyo Wemen’s Plaza Participation : free Language : Japanese, no translation. But many of the participants will help you on site! Or take a look through online. Application : Fill in this form.
Summary Experience Japanese traditional rice harvesting by hands in organic rice paddy overseeing gorgeous mountainous view. Set your body and mind free in the safe open air. You may also deepen the insight of rice and agriculture through the workshop, as well as Japanese history and society.
Schedule Gathering; 11:00 am on September 23, at our accommodations, “Chateau Shiozawa.” The nearest railway station is Shiozawa on JR Joetsu line. Let us know if you use rain, so that we will arrange transportation to the hotel.
交通案内 23日午前8時52分東京駅発とき309号、10時21分越後湯沢着 10時30分越後湯沢発上越線普通列車長岡行、10時47分塩沢着 Joetsu Shinkansen Toki 309 Departing Tokyo at 08:52, arriving Echigo-Yuzawa at 10:21 Joetsu local line Departing Echigo-Yuzawa at 10:30, arriving Shiozawa at 10:47
Contents and bringing Harvasting rice by sickles by hands. Will be cancelled only in stormy condition. Bring your own lunch for day one. Clothings may get muddy. Insect repellent, a hat/cap. The boots are needed since it is very muddy. The participation guide will be provided for those whose participation is confirmed.
定員 Limit of participants. 20人をめどとします。Up to 20 participants.
参加費 Fee 18,500円（プログラム費、1泊2食の宿泊費、2日目の昼食、保険を含む）。男女別相部屋です。ご家族連れは調整させていただきます。1人部屋使用の場合は、1,000円増し。中学生以上大学生までは、13,500円。小学生は9,500円。地元からの参加で宿泊しない場合は、大人9,500円、学生4,500円、小学生は1,000円。 18,500 JPY including program fee, accommodations with two meals, lunch on Sunday, insurance. Shared room. Single room available with extra 1,000 JPY. 13,500 JPY for students from Junior high to college, 9,500 JPY for primary school students.
In this August, ECOPLUS organized four day-camp programs in Minamiuonuma, Niigata. Those were planned to provide opportunities to touch and feel the nature in this seventh wave of COVID-19. In total 39 elementary and junior high students experienced fun in the beech forest, in a pond and in a fresh stream.
On August 11 and 12, at Amaike site, we had nature observation in the morning and canoe class in the afternoon. The nature specialist, Mr. FUKAZAWA Kazuki kindly prepared observation note for each of participants. With the note, we walked through the forest with beech trees. Kids learned different types of plants, like, one has good smell called “Kuromoji,” or a poisonous one called “Urushi.” Tiny lizards were caught by participants and could be observed closely.
On August 18 and 19, students experienced nature observation and stream walk. At the elevation of 700 meters without any houses around, the nature was so rich even in the camping area. Uncountable number of red dragonflies, many grasshoppers and butterflies filled the area. Children were running around with nets. For lunch, they sharpened sticks to grill sausages on fire. In the afternoon, they spent time in the stream with snow melted water from the Mt. Makihata. At the end, they played with traditional bow and arrows. The bow was made out of small branches and arrows were stems of pampas grass.
In all four programs, children were heading back to home, saying like “Wanted to keep catching insects more.” Although all of those participants are from Minamiuonuma city, they did not have much of experiences playing in the nature. The programs looked like good opportunity to feel and touch to the natural environment.
We are starting to accept orders of sun-dried organic ice grown in our non-chemical rice paddies in Tochikubo village in Niigata. The rice which will be harvested and dried under the sun, will be delivered in November.
No chemical materials, like pesticides and weed killers, were used. Fertilizer is 100% organic. Traditional sun drying process on the rack was taken. Because of so many hand works, such totally organic rice is almost vanished even in this Minamiuonuma, the heart land of famous “Koshihikari Rice.”
Polished 1,300 yen/kg and unpolished 1,200 yen/kg plus shipping. Rice grown with 80% less chemical is also available; polished 800 yen/kg, unpolished 700 yen/kg. Contact tappo@ecoplus or use the form below.
ECOPLUS conducted the rice planting workshop on the weekend of May 21-22 in Tochikubo village in Minami-Uonuma, Niigata. The workshop had been shrunk as one day trip because of the COVID-19 and this was the first time to organize as the full-program since 2019. For the rice planting workshop, from elementary school kids to retired person, in total of around 30 were joined.
On Saturday, we gathered at the “Chateau Hotel Ipponsugi“ near the village. We moved up to the top of the mountain ridge by cars and observed the view of the Uonuma basin which is the home of the famous “Koshihikari” rice. The mountain area was once a bottom of ancient ocean. According to the locals, the minerals once accumulated in the bottom of the ocean is still seeping out, then provides rich nutrition to the rice.
Through the mountain ridge, parts of ancient path since the medieval tome were remained. We strolled along the small part of the path which was still covered by snow. Edible mountain vegetables were also identified in the forest near the path.
In the Tochikubo village, Mr. FUEKI Akira gave us a lecture on rice growing focusing on rice planting period. Many works needed before the rice planting, like spreading organic fertilizer, tilling, fine tilling with water, selection of well grown seeds with salt water, making seed bed, and others. Participants were impressed by so many steps with well experienced skills and knowledges were hidden in daily life in rice farming.
At the dinner, local edible vegetable were offered in different dishes. Surprisingly, the long dinner table which was decorated with local vines with purple flower and arrangements of edible vegetables provided the atmosphere close to the nature. The dinner was followed b the slide show of different seasons of the area.
On Sunday, it was still raining in the breakfast time but when we arrived to the rice paddy, rain was almost stoped. At the begging, we used an hexagon wood frame with 3 miters wide to mark on the soil to identify where the seedlings should be sit. First, OHMAE of ECOPLUS made one round trip, then other participant followed. It was not easy to go straight. Elementary school kids and high school student also tried to roll the frame with the supporting calls.
Rice paddy was not so cold and we could feel the softness of the soil. In fact, bear feet would be the best to experience the rice planting. Big rubber boots would make big foot prints which might lay down planted seedlings. With bear feet, we could feel the difference of depth of the mud and difference of the quality of the soil.
Time by time, we had blue sky with beautiful sunshine. Participants accustomed to plant seedlings gradually then, all the rice paddy were filled with young seedling in order by the noon. The lunch was prepared by a local inn; rice balls, cooked mountain vegetables and miso-soup with different mountain vegetables.
Coming back the hotel, we had the reflection session. As a full program for two days, we had lecture and other activities in advance of the actual works in the rice paddy. Many participants said, with the enough background understandings, actual rice planting work was more meaningful experience. ECOPLUS also confirmed that the full program could offer deeper learning on rice, history, tradition. and sustainability.
Next workshop is scheduled on the weekend of June 11-12 with the theme of “weeding.”