Located by the sea about an hour’s drive from central Okayama city, Mokake is a community of around 2,200. Recently, the region is gaining attention for its activities in attracting new migrants to Setouchi, in cooperation with the community ( https://setouchifinder.com/en/detail/3205 ).
Okayama University Machizukuri Kenkyu-kai, an Okayama University students’ circle, is also playing an active role in the village’s revitalization.
In addition to participating in local events, they also carry out activities such as “Terakoya”, which involves teaching local elementary school students after school, as well as producing sweet potatoes, for instance, using abandoned fields and rice paddies and then selling the produce.
Students plow a disused field.
As a concrete action within the region, the students wanted to first answer this issue, so they plow abandoned fields, plant and grow sweet and normal potatoes, arrange harvesting experiences for children, and even sell the harvested potatoes at a local department store.
The above photograph is of the “Terakoya” activity held at the school once a week after classes finish. The university students participate in the activity, which was originally started by a new village migrant who used to be a teacher. The activity became an opportunity for learning at Mokake, a village without a tutoring school.
After the activities finish, the university students play together with the elementary school students.
The students say the activities are fun. Apparently, they participate not because of a particular desire for regional creation or revitalization, they’re children after all, but because it’s fun and it feels like they are just coming to play.
“Although Mokake is only an hour away from Okayama city, here you can enjoy playing both by the sea and the mountains. If you just look, you can find your own special place.”
For the students, Mokake might just be like a secret bas
A highlight of the activities is the summer camp. The students spend up to three weeks in Mokake, and while cleaning houses for new inhabitants, they also deepen their bonds with local people.
Apparently, during the evenings the students have heated debates about future activities!
The students also participate in events such as Migration Fairs, among others, and give suggestions from a student’s point of view.
Those of you who wish to know what people of your age think, or what the charms of Mokake are for young people, or who just wish to interact with energetic young people, do stop by for a chat. The students are sure to tell you passionately about their feelings for Mokake.
Okayama University Machizukuri Kenkyu-kai
HP: http://okadaimachiken.ilabu.net/ (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers: Katsutoshi Asai / Asami Asai (Kokohore Japan)
Katsutoshi Asai Producer and member of the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association. Born in Yokohama in 1974, Katsutoshi is married and has a young son. Although he started his career with an advertising agency, he went to join the Tower Records team. Katsutoshi was involved with brand management, sales campaigns, collaboration work, and live events. Through his career, he experienced being the Sales Promotion Manager, and the Manager of the Live Entertainment Department. However, in 2012, Katsuyoshi retired from Tower Records and moved to Seto city, Okayama prefecture - a place where he had no prior friends, connections or relatives. Soon after moving, he joined the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association, and in July 2013 founded Kokohore Japan and began a number of projects to re-task old traditional buildings, invent new specialty products, and work on regional branding. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/ Asami Asai Editor & Writer I mainly write about social news, music, and lifestyles. I was born and raised in Tokyo, but in 2012 I decided on a whim to move to Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture. I contribute to magazines such as Liniere, Inakagurashi no Hon, and ku:nel. I publish books for my 'interesting' friends, too, and direct and write for programs at FM Okayama. Everyday I write about people and things for both readers and listeners. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/
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