Sixteen student participants
The students divided into four groups and interviewed the life stories of four managers who ran different farmhouse inns in Yurihonjo City, Akita Prefecture. The life stories as described by the students are available for viewing at the bottom of this page.
Community Supporters, Yurihonjo City, Mr. Kenji Shimoda, Ms. Narumi Shiba (Akita International University alumna)
The guest speakers gave a talk on their path to becoming a community supporter and the current state of their activities.
I believe that the local people’s motivation and strong desire to develop and reinvigorate their community is of course vital, and think the key to redeveloping the community lies in how the local people’s desire influences others to also become involved.
1st Visit: October 21st, 2012
When I first entered the class, I was a little worried if I would be able to communicate well with the instructors. While the woman instructor was explaining how to make the straw crafts, the accompanying gentleman did not utter a word and maintained a stern facial expression. However, once we started the craft making activities and were engaged in actual conversation, it turned out that my first impression of him was unwarranted.
2nd Visit: November 23rd – 24th, 2012
Nisshinkan (Yashimamachi, Yurihonjo City)
Based on the interviews conducted during the fieldwork, the students presented the life stories of the farmhouse inn managers in the form of a short play. Residents of the local community and the faculty from the University of Utah also attended the event. After conclusion of the presentations, the local residents and the students held a social gathering, during which the local residents performed the minyo folksong Akita Daikokumai, and the international students performed using the ukulele.
[Support from the Community] Fall Semester, 2012
The administration of the course was made possible by the understanding and support from the people of the local communities and administrative offices. The comments from those supporters can be viewed here. We wish to express our deepest gratitude to those who extended their support to us for the study.
Managers of the Farmhouse Inns
During the course of our collaboration, I was able to recall and recognize abounding old wisdom that is incorporated into our everyday life from my grandparents’ generation, which was quite a moving experience for me as well.
While being interviewed for my life story, I remembered the journey I took to be where I am today, which triggered the outburst of various words inside me that were associated with the pain, pleasure, tears, joy, surprise, worries, failures and labor I experienced along the way.
I am extremely concerned about the young generation’s departure from agriculture. Safe and trustable diet may become unavailable if agriculture is not taken into consideration. It is my sincere wish that the circumstances would be improved so that the young people could take up farming jobs with high hopes for the future.
The following people extended their support in preparing for and guiding the fieldwork.
I believe the field work for the Community Development course, which centered on interviewing life stories, has provided the students with highly valuable experiences and will be a great asset to them moving forward.
The images of students swinging the pestles and cheering during the rice cake pounding session and their blissful faces while eating o-zoni soup made with French duck broth and steaming rice cakes sprinkled with soy flour are still vividly imprinted in my mind.
The following people extended their support as guest speakers and fieldwork collaborators.
I wish for us to consider together what is of utmost importance to the people and local communities.
The time spent during the Q&A session and discussions with the students who are keenly interested in regional revitalization was very stimulating to me. It was also quite rewarding for me to witness the younger generation seriously contemplate what kind of skills would be required, what approach would be optimal, and the overall significance of the students’ participation in the revitalization cause, etc.
Since the Higashiyuri area has an abundance of resources, nature, and an age-old culture, I would like to help the community-building efforts to make good use of these features and contribute to increasing the population that engage in exchange activities.
The collaborative opportunity allowed me to recognize that confronting what is right before our eyes is as important as being concerned about global events.
Especially in this day and age, one can buy anything and everything from store shelves. I would like people from all walks of life to experience our craft-making activities and recognize that a variety of wonderful techniques and wisdom that are applicable to modern everyday life are being lost at an astonishing speed.
I strongly feel it is fun and worth my while to come to this workshop regularly and make my straw crafts.