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A Trip to a Natural Heritage of Japan: The Satoyama, Chiba Kamogawa Rice Terraces -- Editorial Staff

A trip of a natural heritage of JapanĦĤ

The "Satoyama" Chiba Kamogawa rice terraces

Visiting of the "Ecological Minded Kingdom"

In the Mineoka mountain in Chiba Minami-Boso Kamogawa , there is a multiple-purpose farm called " Ecological minded kingdom ".

Along the straight road leading there, there is a view of a rice terrace, which one could consider as a natural heritage of Japan.

This rice terrace is Ooyamasenmaida, the nearest rice terrace from Tokyo.

An ownership system has been implemented by the "Preservation association" for its preservation.

Satoyama , as the present scenery of production and living of Japan.

Crossing the Tokyo Bay by ferry, and going down toward Kamogawa from Kisarazu to Choheikaidou, we can find on the right side a wooden signboard "Ooyamasenmaida". After walking up on the straight road for a while, we suddenly find a landscape of the rice terrace finely prepared in the shape of shelf stage spreading like a model in front of us. That's exactly how the rice terrace is. The expression "model" comes from the fact that for the people like us who are used to see huge urban structure everyday, a place of production made with ground and vegetation is somewhat out of ordinary, and also that our heart will be attracted by this beautiful moulding.

A rice terrace is generally a paddy field where the natural inclination of the foot of a mountain, hill or fanĦĦhave been eased with shape of stairs. It also can be called "senmaida", or "yatsuda" in some areas.

The areas with rice terraces are located at high altitudes, and can also have a public-benefit function, such as flood prevention and cultivation of water resources.

However, areas with rice terraces not only suffer from a lack of agriculturists and a problem of the aging population on top of severe geographical features of hillside, hills and bottom of a valley ground, but also see a an expansion of cultivation abandonment caused by a decrease in the number of agriculturists and the delay of maintenance of the production base.

This background information explains why the "Ooyamasenmaida preservation association" introduced an ownership system to implement preservation. As the nearest "rice terrace" from Tokyo, I saw that a model of cooperation between rural and the city and people building through local functions a future without environmental and geographical destruction.

"Ecological Minded Kingdom" connects a city from Satoyama, the point of meeting of the woods and prairie.

The multiple purpose farm, " Ecological Minded Kingdom" is located at few minutes from Ooyamasenmaida. "Ecological Minded Kingdom" has Mr. Toshio Fujimoto as the representative director of Agriculture Association Corporation.

In the homepage of "Ecological Minded Kingdom", Mr. Fujimoto tells;

-- We suddenly notice that, we have been inviting the exchange of the health of human beings and the earth for the crisis of existence.

Now, what we need is to re-create the organic relation between human being, society, and nature for the development of Self-capacity that we have lost from "alimentation" and "agriculture", to preserve our health and environment.

Satoyama should cooperate with the forefront of the city.

Just the thoughts of people who are giving a feedback to Satoyama at the point of recurrence which can be considered as the origin of human beings might be called a natural kingdom.

It would be wonderful if we could create a new life style in symbiosis with nature.

Using the forefront technology which is symbolized by the information revolution, after city dwellers who move to the middle of the mountain = Satoyama, the point of contact of the woods and a plain.

A village which aims at the cooperation between the "city" and the "village"

One of the activities of Satoyama, which aims at cooporating the "city" and the "village", is the "Satoyama -- a return to farming -- a private school ", sponsored by the "Ecological minded kingdom". The first session of the private school was held this summer. The director of this private school, Mr Ishida is also the chairman of the "Ooyamasenmaida preservation association". In the daytime, a workshop of thinning, forest work for making firewood, cultivation of a fallow land, and a charcoal making were performed, and the lectures were given. Mr. Toshio Fujimoto, Mr. Takeshi Takano, and Mr. Fukui, who is the union director in the night were some of the lecturers.

In the natural kingdom, circulated type septic tank formula toilets have been installed, as well as accommodations of a tree house, a sauna room by the old stove, and are offered the harvests from the mountain and fields. Even if we visit in family, there is enough to enjoy the stay.

A "Satoyama cyber- office" inside of the natural kingdom

At T&T research institute, bearing in mind the practice at Ecological minded kingdom, they do some research activities on the concept of a new lifestyle and the construction of Satoyama multiple-purpose space. The head is Toshio Fujimoto, Mr.Tanaka as the chief researcher, and as a researcher is Mrs. Watanabe. The research domains are, agriculture, alimentation, energy, information technology, civilization theory, farming village, lifestyle, alternative technology. They build up a network with each specialist, research group, NPO, and announce their research results on paper and on web at "T&T research", with original information and Information accumulation.

This year at "T&T research", they presented a study of "Local currency" mentioned in "Exodus of the country of hope" written by Ryu Murakami, and Linux as a representative of open source development. In September, we set up the top-of-the-line researchers of each field, and open a "Free talk meeting" to exchange opinions about how the 21st century will be.

The theme of the research in the beginning of the 21st century is biotechnology. Various issues calling attention now, such as genetic recombination and clone technology, will be discussed. A free talk meeting on the same theme is also planned for the next spring. They are planning to hold a free talk meeting quarterly, and issue "T&T research" monthly.

T&T research institute


Kamogawa-shi, Chiba Daisen Hiratsuka

Ecological Minded Kingdom





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