Activities in Spring Semester, 2013

SOC285 Report Spring Semester 2013

Sixteen student participants

The students broke up into four groups and conducted interviews with the staff of the farmhouse restaurant Yunaya, located in Akita City, Akita Prefecture and direct-sales farm produce store Fresh Land Magokoro. The life stories described by the students and the comments from the local people who collaborated in the study can be viewed in the reports.

Learning Process
1. Theories and Cases

Fundamental theories of community development as well as cases of some of the issues that Japan and Akita Prefecture are facing and solutions to those issues were learned through the student presentations on the assigned literatures and through discussions.

2. Guest Speaker
Ms. Yuko Sugawara

Ms. Yuko Sugawara

Ms. Yuko Sugawara, Agricultural Economy Division, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Akita Prefecture

In the lecture titled “Reinvigoration of communal activities through expansion of the agriculture businesses into the secondary and tertiary industry sectors in Akita Prefecture,” based on various statistical documents and cases from the field, Ms. Sugawara explained the current state of affairs of Akita Prefecture. After the lecture, an active Q&A session took place between Ms. Sugawara and the students.

3. Qualitative Survey Method

The qualitative survey method and life stories were learned through the student presentations on the assigned literatures and through discussions. To enhance the effectiveness of the survey by interviews, the students practiced life-story interviews by dividing into groups of three, prepared the questionnaire forms, reviewed the interviews conducted amongst themselves as well as the students’ own biases, and engaged in the exercise of describing life stories using videos.

4. Fieldwork

We were very fortunate to receive support from Ms. Ikuko Asano, Representative of the farmhouse restaurant Yunaya in Yuwa, Akita City, Akita Prefecture as well as from Ms. Ayako Konishi and Mr. Tarobei Sato of the direct-sales farm produce store Fresh Land Magokoro Kawabe, located in Kawabe. The students conducted interview surveys and engaged in farm activities on two separate occasions.

1st Visit: May 22nd (Wed), 2013; 2nd Visit: July 3rd (Wed), 2013

Ms. Ikuko Asano, Representative, Farmhouse Restaurant Yunaya

Mama’s special (mulukhiya noodles)

Mama’s special (mulukhiya noodles)

Interview survey

Interview survey

Planting mulukhiya

Planting mulukhiya

1st Visit: May 25th (Sat), 2013; 2nd Visit: July 5th (Sat) 2013

Ms. Ayako and Ms. Satomi Konishi of Fresh Land Magokoro Kawabe

Group-planting experience

Group-planting experience

Interview survey

Interview survey

Bento and cuisines of Satoaji Kuitei

Bento and cuisines of Satoaji Kuitei

1st Visit: May 25th (Sat), 2013; 2nd Visit: July 5th (Sat), 2013

Mr. Tarobei Sato and his wife, Mrs. Sato, from Fresh Land Magokoro Kawabe

Planting cucumbers

Planting cucumbers

Interview survey

Interview survey

Bento and cuisines of Satoaji Kuitei

Bento and cuisines of Satoaji Kuitei

5. Data Sorting

Students sorted the data from field notes and videos to create the life-stories of the interviewees. Memorable events and interviewees’ sentiments collected from the interviews were organized into various categories and interlaced links were examined. The utilization of life-stories is a method of learning about the world we live in through signs found in other people’s lives (daily life, human life, lifestyle), which can be a challenging task to explicitly stating the invisible. Thereafter, the students organized the contents of the interviews, which were conducted in standard Japanese and the Akita dialect, and discussed them in English.

Data Sorting

Data Sorting

Data Sorting

Data Sorting

Data Sorting

Data Sorting

Data Sorting

Data Sorting

Briefing Session on Learning Results

The briefing session on learning results was held on July 17th (Wed), 2013 and attended by the farming families who volunteered to be interviewed, staff of Akita Prefectural Office and many others. The students gave group presentations on the interviewees life stories as well as a realistic approach to the development of the community, which could be inferred from the life stories. Two-minute-long videos were also shown and an active Q&A session among the interviewees, visitors and students was held. At the end of the briefing session, the instructing faculty summarized the event and the winners of the best presentation award were determined by the audience’s voting. And after the briefing session was concluded, those in attendance and students socialized with one another.

Student-made posters for the briefing session

Student-made posters for the briefing session

The students and people who supported the survey

The students and people who supported the survey