Study Camp in Takakuma/ 高隈での研修合宿

As some of you have already known, I've been back in Japan from New York to prepare for my next journey. Last year I applied for a volunteer program of JICA, which is like Japanese Peace Corps, and got accepted.

Burkina Faso will be the country that I am going to live for the next two years. My position is called "Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer." Now, I am in Takakuma, located in Kagoshima, southern part of Japan. There are 7 other volunteers here with me. Each of them will be sent to different countries such as The Phillippines, Nepale, Sri Lanka, Malawi, Tanzania, or Kenya, and my place is Burkina Faso. 






We are here to learn the tips of "fieldwork." In 1955, the population of Takakuma was about 5400 and now, it has decreased to 1780 because people have migrated to other "developed" cities.  Now, most of the population of Takakuma is over 65 years old.  Our work is to have one's own theme and investigate the reality by going into villages and talking with the people here.  My theme is "What is it to develop? Does Takakuma really need to change?"  






I was born and raised in Tokyo, and lived in NYC for 6 years. Yes, it's true that I love traveling and have visited many places, but only for short period of time. First of all, Takakuma is very beautiful. If you just stop and look around, you can easily find beautiful mountains, lake, sky, sunshine, houses, and many and many things. But it is not as convenient as cities. You have to drive to get to anywhere. There is almost no public transportations or no stores. 





Maiko from Fukuoka and Tommy from Takakuma



I met many many great, nice, warm people here in Takakuma. Some are trying to stop decrease of the population and others don't really pay attention to it. However, I am not even sure if it's a great thing to develop. To make changes, you always have to give up something. If Takakuma will be changed to some cities with more population, Takakuma will remain. 





 making a cup from bamboo tree. /竹コップ造り


But as our instructor says, traditions have always been changed and there is no culture that will never change. It will only go as the way it will. In the lecture classes we took at the center, we learned that especially in this kind of country side, "time cannot always be controled by humans but is mainly controlled by nature." Concept of "time" differs depending on people's way of living. Even I, feel the different time flow in myself between here and there. Takakuma keeps changing as all other places do. But in any case, I can say that I liked the Takakuma, which I spent time at. I definetly feel that I will go back there someday.





 Me with Mr. Kazuo Ando and Mrs. Tsuruko Ando/安藤一夫さん、ツル子さん夫妻と