Instilling compassion and the ability to survive in children through agricultural experiences

Yoshikatsu Nishikawa (TOKYO YAMAGAWA GUIDE)

Q: Please tell us about your career so far.

Originally from Fukui Prefecture, he majored in earth science at the University of Tsukuba, and was engaged in research on geomorphology and age identification using paleontology. After graduating, I worked at a geological consulting company, working on dam sites and slope construction. When I was 27 years old, I became interested in the simple question of what life is and started working as a chiropractor, which directly deals with the body. In his late 30s, he sought answers to the question "What is the meaning of life?" and worked as a priest at a traditional Buddhist temple. At this time, I also practiced Shugendo. Rather than looking for answers, we are promoting sustainable agriculture on the Tokyo mountain side in order to live in a natural way.

Q: Please tell us about your agricultural experience on the Tokyo side.

The agricultural experience location is located a 15-minute walk from JR Musashi-Itsukaichi Station. This location is across the street from Akigawabashi River Park Barbecue Land, and the parking lot is located at Barbecue Land, so it is easy to access. Tokyo Yamaside DMC aims to solve regional issues. We are working to solve the problem of abandoned farmland by using the rice fields and fields here as a place for learning.

In the rice fields, you will experience a series of tasks, starting from sowing seeds and raising the soil, to rice planting, harvesting, threshing, and hulling. By participating in tasks such as maintaining the rice fields, painting the ridges, and weeding, you can experience the meaning of rice cultivation.

Q: Is there anything you would like children to learn or pass on through agricultural experiences?

Through farming, we hope that children will learn compassion and the strength to survive. Farming is teamwork. We will all work together and share our roles for the harvest. Sometimes it depends on the forces of nature. Rather than spending money to buy rice, it is a real experience of growing, harvesting, and eating rice ourselves. The rice we grow with our own sweat and sweat is exceptionally delicious. It's a special taste that money can't buy.

Q: I understand that you have completed Tozanha Shugendo, but what kind of content does it involve?

I believe that to practice Shugendo is to feel with your whole body the connection with nature, the gods, and Buddhism, prepare your own mind, and serve and give back to society. Shugenja are people who are expected to contribute to society while moving back and forth between the mountains (the world of Shintoism and Buddhism) and the villages (human society). In particular, at Daigoji Temple, where I practiced, there is a concept of ``practical demonstration,'' which emphasizes putting what you have gained through training into practice in real life and giving back to society. Shugendo connects self-growth and social contribution.

Q: So your past experiences led to adventure travel on the Tokyo side? How would you like to convey the charm of Japan's shrines and temples?

Japan's temples, shrines, and traditional performing arts have a tradition of harmony with nature that has been passed down since ancient times. In modern society, immediate value has become mainstream, but in Japanese tradition, we can feel the essence of living in harmony with nature. By practicing Shugendo, I am working to convey this sense of harmony with nature. Recently, people overseas are paying attention to Japanese values. Adventure travel is one of them, and we want to provide sincere information to people who want to experience Japanese spirituality and make it their own. Adventure travel is one way to bring out the charm of Japan to its fullest.

Q: Lastly, please tell us about the appeal of the Tokyo mountain side.

The Tokyo mountain side is not only rich in nature, but also deeply attractive in terms of cultural and historical elements. However, its charm is still dormant. For example, there is the Oshi village on Mt. Mitake, the once prosperous Musashi Itsukaichi was a major charcoal producing area, and the forests around the Tama River supported trade as a source of wood. This region has a fascinating story both geographically and culturally. We believe that by unraveling these stories and visualizing them as regional attractions, we can create new attractions.

西川 佳克(にしかわ よしかつ)



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