大前 純一 のすべての投稿

ミクロネシアとオンライン交流

The First Online Conference connecting Micronesian Island and Japan for Sustainable Future

 2021年2月20日(土)にヤップ島と日本を繋ぐ初のオンライン交流会が開催されました。ヤップ島を含む太平洋の島々からヤップ側が5名、日本から過去のヤップ島プログラム参加者ら8名が参加しました。

 ヤップ側の5人は、ショーン(仕事で訪れているチューク州から)、エン(勤務先のポンペイ州から)、ティナ(滞在先のグアムから)、そしてマルベイとケンがタミル地区からと、ミクロネシア各地からの参加でした。

The first online conference connecting Yap and Japan was held on Saturday, February 20, 2021. Islanders of Yap joined the conference; Sean Gaarad was from Chuuk, Ivan En was from Pohnpei, Tina Filled was from Guam, and Jeff Marbey and Ezekiel Ken from Yap. From Japan side, in total of 8 persons including ex-participants of Yap-Japan Cultural exchange program joined.

 交流会では、経団連自然保護基金の支援によって行われているプロジェクト「タミルの持続可能な将来計画作り」について、現地からの報告と全体でのディスカッションを行いました。

The theme was “How to realize the sustainable society of Tamil municipality, Yap”. In the conference, we had a presentation by Sean and live reports from ocean side of village of Maaq and Merur in Tamil. It was a part of the project called “Sustainable Tamil,” supported by Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, Japan.

 最初に、参加者同士が自己紹介をした後に、ヤップ島のマ村とメルール村からスマホのカメラによる生中継が行われました。

 ヤップ島には2019年に光ケーブルが陸揚げされ、インターネットが高速化しましたが、島内のネットワークがまだ弱く、画像は途切れ途切れ。しかし、波や風の音が聞こえ、メンズハウスの様子がリアルタイムで映し出されると、日本側の参加者はびっくり。過去参加者の中には20年近いギャップがある人もいましたが、それぞれ懐かしいヤップの景色と風を感じました。

Although Yap now has a submarine fiber optical cable connection since 2019, its local network is still depending on ADSL connection using metal cables. So the connection was unstable, however, viewers from Japan could see the views around their familiar men’s houses with the sound of wind and waves. Participants, some of those joined the program about two decades ago, had very memorable time over the screen.

 次に、プロジェクトの中心メンバーであるショーンより、タミル地区の紹介と、プロジェクトの現状報告がありました。

First, Sean, a core member of the project, introduced the Tamil municipality and reported on the current status of the project.

The cultural characteristics of Tamil are that they respect each other, history and culture are inherited in practical ways such as oral tradition and dances, the community cooperates for a common purpose, and the existence of the family is very important. 

 タミル地区の文化的な特徴は、お互いに尊敬すること、文字がないため口承や踊りなどの実践的な方法で歴史や文化が引き継がれていること、コミュニティが共通の目的のために協力すること、そして家族の存在をとても大切にすることです。

 そんなタミル地区で計画されている「エコツーリズム」は、島を訪れる人にもコミュニティ全体にも意義があり、環境や社会への負荷が少ない持続可能な「観光」のあり方を創造することを目指しています。

In the project, a trial of “ecotourism” was set as one of main goals. Ecotourism aims to create a sustainable tourism that has less impact on the environment and society. In other words, it seeks to benefit both visitors and the community as a whole.

 タミル地区では自分たちの回りに、どのような「宝物」があるのかを見つけるために、村歩きが行われています。ショーン自身も知らなかった地域の歴史や自然環境の特徴などを村の他の人から学ぶ機会になり、多くの発見があったそうです。マ村とメルール村ではホームステイやグループステイの受け入れ態勢を構築中。訪問者に提供する食事についての話し合いも行われるとのことでした。

To begin with the preparation for ecotourism, villagers walked around each village to identify the ‘gems’ which are valuable to themselves and also to the visitors. It was meaningful for villagers to learn some histories and natural characteristics in the area. 

In addition, it was reported that Maaq and Merur village were ready to host both homestay and group-stay visitors. It was also informed that meetings, about what food would be provided to visitors, would be held in coming weeks. 

 最後のディスカッションでは、ショーンから「文化、自然環境、人、宿泊施設、アクティビティ」5つのキーワードのうちどれが一番、人々の関心を引くことができると思いますかと問いかけがあり、それについて日本からの参加者が意見を出し合いました。

There is not something “Always showcased luxury” in Tamil but there is something in the living life that can amaze visitors. For instance, fruits, scenery, local dance and so on. In the final discussion, Sean asked Japanese participants which of the five keywords “culture, natural environment, people, accommodation, activities” would be the most interesting to people. The participants from Japan exchanged their opinions to answer the question.

日本人参加者からは以下のような指摘が出されました。

  • 5つ全ての要素を貫くような体験が良いのではないか。
  • いわゆる「観光客」ではなく、本質的な学びを期待する人たちを対象にしたらどうか。
  • 地元の子供や若者を巻き込むことで、外から来た人たちがヤップの文化をどのように評価しているのかを知る機会になるのではないか。
  • ヤップの人々がどのように関わり合っているのかを知ることが一番インパクトがあり重要ではないか。
  • アクティビティはお金を払ってやるようなものではなくて、星空の下で海に入るなどのヤップにいることを感じることが大事ではないか。
  • どこまでローカルにするかが課題。初めて訪れた人にとっては、トイレやシャワーなどの最低限の設備も必要になるはず。

Feedback from Japanese participants:

  • All of the 5 elements are important. To integrate whole experiences would be important.
  • Target the visitors not like the people who come to Colonia as a ‘tourist’, but those who really want to learn from the locals.
  • It is good to invite local children and youth to the ecotour. It will be a good opportunity even for them to know how foreigners appreciate the local culture and nature they have, and visitors can also see how the cultures and wisdoms are inherited in Yap. 
  • To see how Yapese people are interacting with each other is the most impressive and important. 
  • It is important just to be in Yap, not buying experience. 
  • How much of the depth of the locality the host would provide to the visitors? For those who visit Yap for the first time, basic facilities such as toilets and showers would be needed or not…

 こうしたフィードバックを受けて、ヤップ側からは、たくさんのお礼の言葉と共に、考えを深める機会になった、これから本格的にスタートしていきたいと意気込みが語られました。

 新型コロナウイルスの影響によってエコツアーのトライアルなどは延期されていますが、日本と現地の往来が可能になれば、ヤップ島プログラムの参加者らを対象にしたエコツアーをすかさず実施する計画です。お楽しみに!(記録:猶井咲喜)

Although the project plan had to change due to Covid-19, it was a good opportunity to know the possibilities to connect online and share the information.  (reported by NAOI Saki)

雪を、とことん利用して暮らす、遊ぶー雪ざんまいキャンプ2021

 雪をとことん利用して暮らし、遊ぶキャンプです。生活の場所やトイレも自分たちで作り、料理も片付けも雪を利用します。自分の「当たり前」を疑い、新しいことに挑戦し、工夫し、学び合います。人と自然の関わりについて一歩気づきを深めます。地元の暮らしにも思いを馳せ、自然と関わって文化が生まれ、風土を構成する様子を体験しましょう。自分を見つめる機会にもなります。

 

 例年、ドキドキや不安で始まり、発見や喜びに溢れる密度の濃い時間となる雪ざんまいキャンプ。去年に続いて、今年も高校生から若い社会人を対象としたいと思います。

 コロナウィルスを持ち込まないため、今年はエコプラスや髙野代表理事の顔の見える範囲の人たちで、事前からの感染対策を取って実施します。

  • 日程:2021年3月19日事前準備、20日(土)―22日(月)2泊3日雪上キャンプ(19日に都合がつかない人は20日の朝入り)
  • 場所:南魚沼市清水集落(上越線越後湯沢駅、塩沢駅での集合を検討中)
  • 目的:自分の「当たり前」にチャレンジする。雪を題材に人と自然の関係について考える。持続可能な社会をデザインする素材を得る。心と身体を解放しクリエイティブに暮らす。
  • 内容:雪を利用した生活の場づくり。薪を使った野外調理。雪山散歩と豪快尻滑り。雪像やアイスクリーム作りなどの雪遊びを自由に。
  • 対象:高校生から若い社会人12名程度。
  • 条件:実施の10日前(3月9日)から、店などでの飲食や不特定多数の人たちと空間を共にすることを避け、可能な限り3密を避けることができること。実施前2週間の体温測定や体調チェック、当日の体調チェックなど、安心してキャンプができるよう、面倒ではありますが協力をお願いします。スタッフ側も同様の対応です。
  • 参加費用:22,000円(含まれないもの:自宅からの往復交通費、装備レンタル、19日の食費・風呂、20日の朝昼食)

 申し込みと問い合わせは、以下のフォームからお願いします。参加決定の方にはさらに、体調やアレルギーなどに関する細かな情報を出していただきます。

オンラインでの立教大学サービスラーニングを支援

 エコプラスは、2021年2月7日から10日まで新潟県南魚沼市で行われた立教大学のサービスラーニング(RSL)プログラムの支援をさせていただきました。

ECOPLUS supported an online “service learning practicum” of Rikkyo university based in Tokyo, on 7 to 10 February, at Minamiuonuma city, Niigata.

 立教大学の通称「雪掘り実習」は、これまでは3泊4日の実習として行われ、除雪活動などを通じて、雪国の地域社会、そして日本社会の現実を学ぶプログラムです。今回は新型コロナウィルスの感染拡大を受け、すべてがオンラインで行われました。

In past years, the program had been conducted as three nights and four days actual program staying in the snowy village, Tochikubo, learning the reality of current Japanese society through volunteer works like snow shoveling. However, because of Covid-19, the program of this year was totally conducted on-line.

 事前に南魚沼市栃窪集落での「雪掘り」活動や地域住民のインタビュー、栃窪小学校の毎日などを動画素材として準備し、それを見た上で、7日からオンラインでの授業が、14人の受講生を対象に行われました。

Students learned the situation of the village with video materials including footage of snow shoveling on the roof, interferes of the locals and introduction of the elementary school in the village with a total of 12 students from 1 to 6 grade. Then, online interactive session was held.

 栃窪小学校では、子どもたちが一年間の学びを、音楽や踊りや劇を組み合わせた発表を行い、それを大学生たちが視聴して質問を交わす展開となりました。

On 8 Feb., the interactive session with the elementary school was held. Kids presented what they learned during the school year with dance and play, then university and elementary students were communicated over the screen.

 また、地域のみなさんのご自宅に担当の高野孝子・同大客員教授がお邪魔してインタビューするなどして、少子高齢化の集落の実態を知り、また集落で取り組んでいる農業の実際を聞きました。

Also TAKANO Takako, an executive director of ECOPLUS and a visiting professor of Rikkyo university, visited community homes holding her laptop computer for the live interviews to offer the students the reality of the live and farming business in the snowy community.

 すべてオンラインで行わざる得ない展開となりましたが、大学生からは、この4日間の実習を通じて新しいものの見方、考え方を学ぶことが出来ました、などというコメントが寄せられていました。

Despite the hard situation by Covid-19, students looked like deepened understandings about the situation of Japanese society and acquired skills how to investigate current situation of the society and the prospect for the sustainable future.

エコプラスの2021年の活動予定について

 エコプラスは、今回の新型コロナウィルスの感染拡大に関して、予定していた各種プログラムを以下のように変更します。

 現場での活動は、しばらくの間、規模を縮小するなどして実施します。南魚沼市栃窪集落での無農薬天日乾燥米の販売・予約による地域の応援や、ヤップ島での持続可能な社会づくり活動のリモート支援などは継続して展開します。ご協力をお願いします。

雪ざんまいキャンプ

2021年3月20-22日実施予定
 人数を平常より絞り、参加者には事前の自主隔離、健康確認をしてもらった上で、感染防止策を取ったプログラム展開とします。

ヤップ島プログラム

 2021年8月実施予定(3月末に実施を判断)
 米国の渡航規制、日本再入国の規制、ヤップへの感染拡大のリスク、 ヤップで発症の場合の対応、国内での事前キャンプなどの実現可能性などで判断します。

田んぼのイロハ

 田植え(5月22、23日) それぞれ日帰りで実施。
 感染拡大の首都圏の人は事前の自主隔離などをしていただいて実施します。

 草取り(6月5、6、12、13日) それぞれ日帰りで実施。
  田植え同様、感染拡大の首都圏の人は事前の自主隔離などをしていただいて実施します。

 稲刈り(9月25、26日)実施予定
 同様に、感染拡大の首都圏の人は事前の自主隔離などをしていただいて実施します。

 お米の予約販売

 極端な少雪に見舞われた日本の山間地域は、スキー場を中心にした経済が、ウィルス騒ぎも加わって深刻な打撃を受けています。このため、早めではありますが、秋の収穫のお米の予約も始めます。準備出来次第、ウェブサイトに受付画面を用意します。

雪を存分に楽しむーー子どもデイキャンプ参加者募集

山あいの集落で、雪の世界を存分に楽しみます

 久しぶりの大雪となったこの冬。いまだ収まらない新型コロナウィルスの感染で、子どもたちは閉じこもりがちの日々だったと思います。夏と秋に引き続き、自然にたっぷりと触れてもらうデイキャンプを実施します。3月6,7日の両日、新潟県南魚沼市清水地区で行います。小学校3年生から中学生までが対象。お早めにお申し込み下さい。

 本事業は、全国で展開される、文部科学省総合教育政策局の「子供たちの心身の健全な発達のための子供の自然体験活動推進事業」の一部です。

新型コロナウィルスへの対応 参加にあたっては、本人やご家族が発熱や、味覚嗅覚の異常がないこと、ご家族が密接な状況での飲食や業務をされていないこと、などを文書で確認させていただいた上での実施とさせていただきます。

  • 【日程・場所】 2021年3月6、7日 南魚沼市清水地区
  • 【集合・解散】 午前9時現地集合、午後3時半現地解散
  • 【対象・人数】 小学校3年生から中学生、両日とも20人
         (事前の健康チェックが必要です)
  • 【参加費】 500円(活動資材実費と傷害保険)
  • 【持ち物】お弁当、飲み物ほか。詳細は参加の手引きで説明します。
  • 【内容】 アニマルトラッキング(雪の上の足跡探し)、雪遊びなど。
  • 【申し込み】以下のフォームへの入力をお願いします。参加の手引き定員になり次第締め切ります。
  • 【後援】 南魚沼市、南魚沼市教育委員会(予定)
  • 【共催】 南魚沼市環境・野外教育研究会
  • 【主催】 特定非営利活動法人ECOPLUS TAPPO南魚沼やまとくらしの学校
    tappo@ecoplus.jp 090-3214-7549(大前)

2021年もよろしくおつきあいを

エコプラス代表理事 髙野孝子

 2021年、みなさまどのようにお迎えでしょうか。

 私が暮らす新潟県南魚沼市では、年末から降雪が続き、連日「雪掘り」エクササイズです。

 いつもエコプラスへの応援や温かいご支援をありがとうございます。

 昨年はどなたにとっても大変な1年だったと存じます。エコプラスも体験的なプログラムの見直しに迫られ、ほとんどの事業が影響を受けました。そんな時、皆さまからいただいたご寄付や励ましの言葉で支えられ、どんな中でも期待される役割があるなら頑張ろうと思わされました。

 ヤップ島には行けませんでしたが、経団連自然保護基金の支援による環境改善と小さな経済を回すためのプロジェクトについては、現地とzoomにて(!)の会議を何度か実施しました。

 田んぼプログラムは、日帰り参加として、数十人の方々が関わっていただき、今年も絶品のお米となりました。栃窪集落の応援に繋がりました。新米、まだ注文可能です。

 福井県池田町では2泊のキャンプを初めて実施し、2020年3月の雪ざんまいキャンプは知った若者たちを中心にして、ダイナミックな学びの場となりました。

 文科省委託の子ども日帰りキャンプは大好評で、これまで考えることのなかった「日帰り」の価値を見つけることとなりました。

 我が家の小さな田んぼで大前が試みた「youtube田んぼ事件」は好評です。私の冒険話は、一人語りが難しすぎて中断中。

 会報やウェブでは、川口理事のイニシアチブで、ヤップ島プログラムに参加した人たちのその後のストーリーを取り上げる「ヤップで蒔かれたタネたち」シリーズが始まっています。

 思えばたくさんの初めてがありました。

 新しい時も、エコプラスがどのように新しい価値の創造や、見過ごされてきた大切なものにスポットライトを当てていけるか、チャレンジを続けたいと思います。

 今年はエコプラスの始まりである、任意団体エコクラブがスタートしてから30年目となります!

 ヤップ島プログラムの経験者でもある理事たちが、何やら仕掛ける予定ですので、お楽しみに。

 25周年を記念して実施したヤップ島振り返り調査の一部を、研究論文として国際ジャーナルに投稿し、最近ようやく掲載となりました。英文ですが、ご興味のある方はお知らせください。

 みなさまが健康で、安らかでありますように。どうぞ今年もよろしくおつきあいください。

2021年1月

Seeds from Yap, Story #1 Ms. TOUME Tomoe

From Ishigaki Island to Yap Island and return to Ishigaki Island

Eco- and Human-friendly society created by Island lifestyle

It has been around 30 years since the “Yap-Japan Cultural Exchange Program” started. More than 400 participants including observers have stepped on the soil of Yap Island. Now, 30 years have passed, how do the people with a common experience in Yap Island have spent time for quarter century and what are they facing now?

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the program, we are going to start a column series “Seeds sown in Yap” . Here we are going to introduce the subsequent stories of participants, so that we can look back on the value and meaning of Yap island once again and get some hints on how we live and contribute to the creation of a sustainable society in the future.

The first storyteller is TOUME Tomoe, a participant in 1993. She was born and grew up on Ishigaki island in Okinawa prefecture and still lives on the island as a mother of five children. How has her experience in Yap affected her life? The first storyteller is TOUME Tomoe, a participant in 1993. She was born and grew up on Ishigaki island in Okinawa prefecture and still lives on the island as a mother of five children. How has her experience in Yap affected her life?

Program 1993 in Yap island. Tomoe is the third person from the middle right.

Spending time surrounded by nature, tradition and culture.

Weaving is like a meditation. There is joy in creating something by my hands. Spinning thread, tailoring and dying.. Here, we are still tailoring Kimono (a traditional Japanese attire) by ourselves for festivals, starting from growing hemp.

オンラインでインタビューに答えてくれた當銘朋恵さん
Online interview with Tomoe

Tomoe has been busy raising her five sons on her hometown Ishigaki Island. Besides helping her family’s pineapple farm, she enjoys weaving, supporting after school children care, nature games and starry sky guide.

From Tomoe’s words, you can feel the culture and traditions from the time of Ryukyu kingdom and the breath of nature around her. She has always loved nature since she was a small child.

I could enjoy seeing creatures, leaves, whatever in nature. I felt like there are treasures all over the place and the earth is shining. I was wondering why I had only one body.

While she grew up in affluent nature in Ishigaki island, she also had an internal struggle.

If I loved nature too much, I started hating people. I couldn’t forgive the destruction of nature and environmental problems caused by human. There was a problem with the new airport and red clay around this place. The rain flowed the red clay into the ocean and the water was colored with red which was painful as if blood was flowing.

She had a hard time when she was highschool and university student to know more and more about environmental problems. She refused the work which benefits humans such as teachers, doctors and farmers and decided to study biology at Ryukyu university. That time she came to know the Yap island programm.

From Ishigaki Island to Yap Island

I happened to see an article about the introduction of the program in the newspaper. It was a tiny article and the submit due date was a day after. That time I saved money by working part-time to go to Africa. So Micronesia was a place where I didn’t plan to visit.

Her instinct led her to make a phone call to Ecoplus even though she didn’t have clear purpose yet. I think a lot of participants of the Yap Island program are connected by chance like her.

There are a lot of similarities between Okinawa and Yap island. As you go from Ishigaki to Guam and Yap, the same plant grows bigger and bigger. Her first impression of Yap Island was to see a way bigger size of familiar leaves in Ishigaki.

The first activity was to drink coconut juice and weave mat with coconut leaves. We put the weaved mat on the ground and slept together in the same mosquito net. And we made natural flush toilets on the river. We always cooked together. But gradually we used up the food stock and at the end we ate rice with jam! Then local people felt pity for us and brought ready made food such as coconut, crab soup, giant clams and so on. It was very delicious.

She really enjoyed the life of creating their own life together in Yap island. She explained us as we can imagine the picture of 30 years ago.

Learnings from vegetable garden in Yap Island
A way of life that you can get anything you need from nature

During ten days in Yap Island, she had some experiences which influenced her life.

I strongly remember the memory of my homestay at Rosa’s family. One day she let me visit their vegetable garden. We kept walking in the jungle and suddenly she stopped and said “This is our vegetable garden”. I was surprised because it just looked as same as other parts of the jungle but when I observed it carefully, I could find beans, pumpkin, watermelon and so on. It was so shocking for me to know that they can get whatever they need from nature without deforestation. And I felt the environment is so affluent. We went back home with a weaved basket full of vegetables.

We can live if only we have coconut and fish.”  These words of local people changed Tomoe who used to hate humans. She had started to think that she could do something for them. “I want to do something for these people, I think I can do something.” “The experience was the most effective for me. If I didn’t visit Yap island, I might be a very disgusting person. I could somehow appreciate everything after coming back to Japan. The learnings from Yap island could gain little by little.

Tomoe was impressed by the way of life that does not burden the environment  and she found out the possibility of sustainable agriculture. She studied Permaculture in the United States and Australia and got the licence as an instructor. Even though she used to refuse to be a farmer, the experiences in Yap island shifted her way of thinking about agriculture as the important connection between humans and nature. Her experience shows us the strength of place based learning and the value of one’s awareness.

Everyone is different, everyone is special.

 After she went back to Ishigaki island, she got married and gave birth to 5 sons.

I wanted to try growing up our children in a natural way. So I gave birth my first son in the hospital but 4 other sons were born at home with my husband’s support. Just as Yappies 3 years old children walk with small knives, I let my children hold a knife and use a saw and screwdriver fleely before they become 1 years old. Some people around me said something to me though.

After children grow up, she has started working on star guides and nature games for children which is her lifework. The essence of nature games is not the knowledge itself but to feel nature with 5 senses.

You cannot see the real appearance of the flower once you think of the name of it. I think it is more important to feel the beauty, uniqueness and any other sense of feelings. Nowadays there are some children who have never seen frogs in Ishigaki Island. Sometimes I’m shocked to know some children experience nature itself for the very first time.”

I love the word “Everyone is different, everyone is special”. I can feel the word as the common thing when I am in nature

But once you look at the society, I wonder how many people understand the meaning of this sentence. I feel it in school especially. My children used to go to school with sandals but it was not allowed by the teacher. I felt constrained. I think it is better if we have space to think how to live and how to work. To understand the feeling of the connection of family, society and earth would lead us to gain the power of how to live.

Tomoe wants to let her children hold the island’s culture and nature inside themselves. While imagining the scene when she swam with a raft in the sea of ​​Yap at full moon night, she talks about her desire to let her children have such an experience someday.

Thinking of Post COVID-19 era from Ishigaki Island

Now the world is facing the problem of COVID-19, Ishigaki Island is not the exception. What does she think of this situation?

Now (26th May) the school is closing due to the pandemic, but some people around me are feeling it’s benefits. Children can be relaxed without being stressed with their homeworks.  Especially from March to May is a busy season for sightseeing in Ishigaki Island and parents usually leave their children alone. But this year I could see a lot of children and parents playing together. In addition, during this time, various creatures such as giant crabs holding eggs are appearing on the road, and they are run over by taxis and rental cars. It’s painful to see it, but it doesn’t happen this year and I’m feeling like the peaceful days are back here in Ishigaki Island.

She says every day on Ishigaki Island should not be a congestion but be more peaceful. COVID-19 would give us an opportunity to reconsider the way of sightseeing on the island.

We had 1,480,000 guests to the island with a population of 50,000 last year

Sightseeing is of course helpful for the economy however, tourists also consume both water and energy. It was actually out of our capacity, I guess. People were able to visit Ishigaki Islands with low cost careers before the pandemic. It causes the people to bring their everyday life to the island rather than enjoying the slow island time. They quickly go around the island and go back without knowing the reality. We want a lot of people to know the wonderful part of our island. That’s why I want to set a limitation of visitors and we want to welcome those who can respect and appreciate our island.

The impact of COVID-19 has put a heavy burden on our way of movement. Ironically it would lead us to think about comfortable life, the reason for moving and how to respect culture and nature where we visit. This may be true in Yap island too. Tomoe says that a more “friendly society” can be created by communicating, connecting, and respecting people and nature, and creatures.

Hopes to ECOPLUS

It was a really great opportunity for me to be able to look at human beings which I’ve kept hating, and to have a feeling of being grateful for everything within a week in Yap. I guess I was not a genuine participant but I think that the influence on people can be shown in not intended place and time. I think it is amazing that ECOPLUS has continued providing the real experience for a lot of people. There are also some stories that can only be understood among those who have experienced it. I hope the relationship will last forever.

Seeds is a good expression. ECPLUS is definitely sowing the seeds.

One seed that has returned to Ishigaki from Yap Island has spread its roots and made soil for new seeds.

Interview by KAWAGUCHI Daisuke, participant of 1999, Translation by NAOI Saki, participant of 2015

Seeds from Yap, Story #2, Ms. IWASAKI Mio

The story of a genetic researcher
From a closed space to an open world

As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the “Yap-Japan Cultural Exchange Program” we have started a column series “Seeds sown in Yap” . Here we are going to introduce the subsequent stories of participants, so that we can look back on the value and meaning of Yap island once again and get some hints on how we live and contribute to the creation of a sustainable society in the future.

Our second story teller is IWASAKI Mao who participated in 1999 and 2001 when she was a junior high school student. Now, she is a Program-Specific Assistant Professor at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application at Kyoto University which is headed by Dr. YAMANAKA Shinya, Nobel Prize-winning stem cell biologist.

She joined the program during the midst of Adolescence. We asked her how her experiences in Yap island gave impact on her life and research work today.

Online interview with Ms. IWASAKI Mao

Attracted by the world of gene

I’m researching several types of genes. Even if the genome is the same, the appearance is completely different if the cell type is different. I feel the differences are interesting.

iPS Cell attracts attention after Dr. YAMANAKA Shinya received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012. It is expected to take a crucial role for regenerative medicine.

Ms. Iwasaki (right in picture) with her research group members.

She speaks calmly and introspectively during the interview, but once she talks about cells, she looks like a bit excited.

Mio got interested in the human body when she was in the 4th and 5th grades of elementary school. “My niece is 10 years younger than me and she was born with a disability in her eyes. I was wondering why it is happening.

After she got interested in humanities and science through her relative, the NHK documentary program she watched when she was in junior high school accelerated her interests and had a great impact on her future.

I knew about the word “Gene” in the TV program for the first time. Humans have around 30 trillion cells and each of them contains information as same as a thousand encyclopedias.  The information is properly extracted in each place, such as the brain, liver, and bone, to maintain vital functions. It was interesting to know that each cell contains enormous information. The TV program mentioned that a lot of things have not been cleared yet. That time I thought I can do something or I have to do something for this.

In this way she aspired to be a genetic researcher when she was in middle school. On the other hand, she was struggling with a lot of suffering and frustration at that time. 

(完売しました)無農薬天日乾燥米のおすそ分け!

Sold out; “Sun-Dried Organic Rice,” Available

プログラムで出来た無農薬米、今年は豊作でした。手元に残ったお米をおすそ分けします。

 エコプラスでは、新潟県南魚沼市栃窪地区で、休日農業講座「田んぼのイロハ」を行っています。今年は新型コロナウィルスの影響で、宿泊なしの日帰り自主参加としました。

Limited amount of sun-dried organic rice grown in our rice paddy and in next one is available.

No chemical materials, like pesticides and weed killer, 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.

 今年は、7月中降り続いた長梅雨、晴れっぱなしの8月。台風のフェーン現象による40度近い高温と強風に見舞われた9月と、荒れた天候でした。しかし、標高500mのイロハ田んぼでは、ぷっくらしたアメ色の立派な玄米が出来ました。

9月末の田んぼのイロハに参加いただいたみなさんへの報告ビデオです。
2020年5月中旬の田んぼの様子です。

 新型コロナウィルスの影響で、スキーや学生の夏合宿など観光に依存する南魚沼市の経済は打撃を受けています。エコプラスがお世話になっている南魚沼市栃窪集落も、雇用削減による収入減で大ピンチです。

 イロハ田んぼの無農薬米のほか、地元の集落営農組織「とちくぼパノラマ農産」の減農薬米も販売します。流通を通さずに消費者に直接販売することで、農家には通常よりも高い代金が入ります。

 無農薬米、減農薬米、いずれも数量に限りがあります。お早めにお申し込み下さい。

雨と自然を感じながら、無農薬田んぼで稲刈り

Harvesting Workshop in Organic Rice Paddy under the Rain

 エコプラスは、2020年9月27、28日の週末、新潟県南魚沼市栃窪集落で、休日農業講座「田んぼのイロハ」の稲刈り編を行いました。新型コロナウイルスの対応のため例年の1泊2日ではなく、日帰りを基本とした自主参加企画として実施しました。2日間で24人が、無農薬田んぼでの稲刈りに挑みました。

On September 27 and 28 in 2020, ECOPLUS organized a workshop on harvesting organic rice as a part of “ABC in a rice paddy” in Tochitsubo village, Minamiuonuma , Nigata. Due to the situation of COVID-19, we conducted it as a voluntary participating event without overnight stay unlike the usual workshops. Through 2 days, 24 people participated in this event on the non-chemical rice paddy.

雨の中、刈った稲の束ね方を教わる。Learn how to tie the harvested sheaf of rice in the rain.

 天候はあいにくの雨模様。参加者は雨合羽を着て長靴を履いての作業となりました。地元の笛木晶(ふえき あきら)さんの指導で、カマの使い方と刈り取った稲をワラで束ねる方法を教わりました。特に束ねる技が名人芸。まるで手品のようでした。

Under the very wet weather condition, participants needed to wear rain gears and boots. From Mr. FUEKI Akira who has been taking care of the rice paddies, we learned how to use sickles to harvest rice and the way to tie harvested rice with rice straw. His tying skill was eye-opening and it was just like magic.

 いざ開始・・・。刈り取ったはずなのに稲穂が残っていたり、束ねたのにゆるゆるで崩れたりの悪戦苦闘。さらに追い打ちをかけたのが、雨で田んぼがドロドロの底なし沼状態。膝まで埋まって足が抜けない抜けない。転んだら全身泥だらけ。これが一番参加者を苦しめたのではないでしょうか。

We started harvesting….however, it did not go so easily! It was actually difficult to cut all the stems of rice with sickles clearly. Tying the harvested one with rice straw was another problem because it easily becomes loose if you don’t tie it correctly. In addition to this hard situation, the paddy field, which became bottomless swamp due to the rain,  caught our legs even up to our knees and didn’t let it go. What you will see if you fall on the ground is your entire body covered with dirt. I assume this was the biggest point that made us suffer the most this time.

 しかし、2時間もすると、それぞれコツをつかんだのでしょうか、自分の世界に浸ってもくもくと作業する人、世間話をしながらマイペースで作業する人。

However, in less than 2 hours, we gradually started to get the hang of it.  Some people were just concentrating on their work. Some people were working while having conversations with others.

 不思議なもので、いつのまにか連帯感が生まれます。ドロドロ対策で、ブルーシートを手元に置いて中間集積場所を作ったり、稲を干す稲架(はざ)にかけるために、田んぼを往復しないで稲束をバケツリレーのように投げてかけるなど、チームワークが発生します。束ねた稲は、ちょっとくらい乱暴に扱っても穂は落ちません。

As the time went, a sense of solidarity was created among the participants somehow; automatically we set the bluesheets near each of us as a halfway point to collect the harvest sheaf of rice so that we could minimize the walking distance on the muddy ground. Being in the line and doing a relay the sheaf of rice was also helpful in putting them on the rack to dry them easily. The sheaves of rice that were tied tightly didn’t get loosened even if it was treated roughly a little bit.

 泥にまみれ、ずぶぬれになりながらも、ほっとさせてくれるのが、田んぼにいる生き物たちです。特に人気だったのが、シュレーゲルアオガエルです。これぞカエルという美しさとかわいらしさに、普段は虫も触ったことがない女の子がカエルを撫でていました。

The creatures living in the paddy were an oasis for us having hard time due to working in a muddy and wet condition.  “Schlegel’s Green Tree Frog” was an especially popular star among us. Even the girls who do not touch the insects usually were rubbing the frog who have such an adorable look of typical frog.

稲の間から登場してきたシュレーゲルアオガエル。目の上下が金色に輝き、体は鮮やかな黄緑。“Schlegel’s Green Tree Frog” who popped up from the middle of the sheaf of rice. The upper and down part of her eyes were shining gold and the body had a vivid yellow green colour.

 無農薬の田んぼで、そして機械ではなく手で稲を刈るからこそ会える生き物たちなのです。

We could only see these creatures because it was on the paddy field without any pesticide and working with our own hands but not by the machine.

 2日目のお昼には約1,400㎡の田んぼがきれい刈られて、全て稲架(はさ)に干すことができました。この風景だけでホカホカの新米が目に浮かぶような愛おしさを感じます。来年は、田植えから参加することを決意した人もいました。顔を伝う水は、雨水か汗かそれとも感動の涙?さわやかな達成感を得られた2日間でした。もちろん、翌日は筋肉痛に悩まされましたが・・・。(報告 福井智之)

By the lunch time of the second day, the paddy field which has the size of 1,400㎡ was cleared completely and the rice were all hanged on the drying rack. That scenery was just so lovely to see and I could not help to have an image of newly harvested rice in my mind. Some of the participants made their minds saying “I want to experience planting rice next year but not only harvesting” I wonder what  the liquid going down on the face was. Was it the rain water, sweat, or the tears? A sense of accomplishment was filling our mind at the end. Of course, muscle pain didn’t forget to suffer us the next morning though….! (reported by FUKUI Tomoyuki, translated by HASUMI Chigira)