寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

Wishing for the Great Harvest Together (May 16, 2013)

The Kirin-SCJ “Kizuna” Scholarship has been provided by the Kirin Group in cooperation with Save the Children Japan (SCJ). The Kirin group promotes learning opportunities for children who are the ones that will have to take on the burden of redeveloping post-disaster areas. This blended easily with SCJ’s aim to build a society where children’s rights are realized everywhere in the world. The scholarship has been offered since Oct. 2011, to students of agricultural high schools and prefecture high schools studying agricultural-related subjects in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

On May 16, we participated in a “School Rice Planting” at Miyagi Prefecture Agricultural High School located in Natori City. Miyagi Prefecture Agricultural High School is one of the schools that receive the Kirin-SCJ “Kizuna” Scholarships. This school is the oldest agricultural high school in Japan that demonstrates both tradition and practical agricultural methods. Locals friendly call the school by its nickname, “Miyano.” The school was massively damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake, so it is currently operated from a temporary school building. In spite of their tough situation, the students are working very hard in their classrooms and on their practical training. They are trying to revitalize their community through youth power! The traditional rice planting is held every year, and about 700 students and 100 teachers joined this year. The aim of the event is to express a feeling of awe in response to nature, together with an appreciation of all food. The students also enjoy a sense of achievement and joy together through experiencing the traditional handwork of planting rice, a tradition that has been inherited from ancient times.

In order to deepen our communication with the recipients of this scholarship, and to understand more about the activities of the agricultural high school, we participated in the rich planting this year.

The weather was completely different from terrible weather of the previous day. This traditional event of May started with perfect sunny weather for rice planting. First, Mr. Kikuo Shiraishi, school principal, gave a speech. “Please do rice planting by class, competing in your accuracy with others but not your speed. Try it seriously, and then you will experience a sense of achievement and excitement… Although rice seedlings look very fragile and unreliable, they grow to have beautiful rice in the fall. Just like these rice crops, let us also support each other to live our lives.” After his speech, the students walked to the rice paddies that are 15-minutes from their temporary school building, and waited at the paddy allocated for each class.

130516_1
Students going to plant rice in this huge rice paddy.

130516_2130516_3
Students start planting rice after the teacher’s signal. Everyone looks so serious!

On both sides of the ridges, students hold a rope taut and then start planting after deciding which row to plant first. First the locations for planting are precisely set: Fifteen centimeters between each seedling, and 30-centimeters between each row. After completing one row, the students step back and start planting again at equal intervals. They just keep doing this over and over! The number of rice seedlings shouldn’t be too many or too few, as either may cause disease. We carefully planted five seedlings at the set interval, one by one.

130516_4130516_5

We participated and found it is quite heavy work!

After the school rice planting, we interviewed Mr. Jin Sato and Mr. Ryu Sasaki, who are both 3rd graders and recipients of the scholarships. We asked them about their school lives and future dreams. Both of them answered our questions clearly and directly, and we were impressed with their positive attitudes.

130516_6

(From left) Mr. Jin Sato and Mr. Ryu Sasaki.

Mr. Sato
“After the earthquake, I was going to do part-time work to earn money and go to university, but thanks to this scholarship, I am now able to concentrate on my studies. I am working hard to acquire qualifications. At university, I want to enter the Faculty of Sports. I want to keep going, and change my sadness into joy and find happiness.”
Mr. Sasaki
“To get admission on recommendation to my target school I am studying hard, utilizing my study hours in the dormitory. From now on, I want to appreciate the people who supported us when we had nothing. I want to go to university and study agriculture so that I can contribute towards my family and my community.”
130516_7

The rice seedlings are nicely planted. We are looking forward to harvest in the fall.

We planted “Hitomebore,” a kind of rice promoted by Miyagi prefecture. Non-chemical fertilizer is used in their rice paddies. The school principal said it shall grow to be wonderful golden rice in the fall. We wish for a successful harvest, and look forward to its rich bounty.

The Great East Japan Earthquake not only massively damaged agriculture in the Tohoku region, but also brought great pressures to bear on high school students who wished in the future to work in agriculture. Under such circumstances, the Kirin-SCJ “Kizuna” Scholarship was established as a part of the Kirin Group’s “Kirin Kizuna Relief-Support Project,” in cooperation with SCJ. Through this scholarship, we hope those students who wish to work in agriculture can have a bright future in their studies, and that they will continue the history of abundant agriculture in the Tohoku region for future generations. We will continue supporting students who wish to work in agriculture through this Kirin-SCJ “Kizuna” Scholarship.
(Reported by Takafumi Hayasaka, Sendai Office)