Asaza Project

Introduction for Asaza Project 2

Who plays the largest role in the vegetation restoration project is elementary school pupils around the Lake Kasumigaura. See the map below. In this map, red points represent elementry schools that join the Asaza Project. Asaza Fund distributes seeds of asaza and asks the pupils to grow asaza until it can be planted in the lake. This system is usually called "foster parent program."

Fig. 1 Distribution of Elementary Schools Involved in the Asaza Project

Involvement of elementary school pupils in Asaza Project can be said as an achievement of Mr. Iijima (director general of Asaza Fund)'s concept to make a sustainable environment project "non-self-contained.” This concept can be understood as creating a virtuous circle of goods, people, and money which would revive the whole basin and thus the lake itself.

Mr. Iijima's "non-self-contained" concept is significant, if we remember history of vicious circle that happened at the lake. Since Lake Kasumigaura is connected with the sea through a river and wind was strong, flood was rampant in this area. To amend flood damage, dredging construction was started in 1948. This construction made more seawater to come up to the lake and seawater caused salt damage on the fields around the lake. Corresponding to this suffering of farmers, Ministry of Construction built the sluice gate in 1963 (this sluice gate was also used to distribute industrial water for coastal industrial zone). Fishermen opposed against this construction because they were afraid that brackish fish would disappear from the lake. In these very typical "self-contained" cases, the approaches to the problems were one-on-one basis and overlooked possible up-coming problems behind a solution.

On the contrary, solving Lake Kasumigaura's problem with elementary school is simultaneously a solution to other problems. For example, elementary school pupils lacked a class that would teach them how to integrate knowledge to solve daily life problems like the lake. After involving in the Asaza Project, some pupils learned that even if Lake Kasumigaura was 'dead,' we can do something different to make it lively again. Even though asaza foster parent program was initiated as a mean to re-vegetate the lakeshore, it extended its field to altering a consciousness towards the lake. In the author's opinion, this spirit of challenge taught in Asaza Project does not limit itself in the lake's problem but can be applied to any problem in the society.

Let us closely examine the elementary school project.
Since elementary schools are located every 500m-1km around Lake Kasumigaura, it became possible to plant asaza widely in the lake. Pupils first nurture asaza seeds in biotopes constructed in their school field. In summer, pupils plant asaza in the lake with Asaza Fund staffs and teachers as supervisors. Not only that 170 elementary schools are involved in the project, involvement of schools means involvement of communities wide, since in Japan, community is formed around school districts. Pupils' parents are usually working for the company in the area.

The basin-wide distribution of school was also advantageous to do research on indicator plant and invertebrate throughout the lake. Schools gather temperature data of these living organisms in their biotope using NEC (a computer manufacturing company)'s remote sensing technology. From this activity, a moment of tadpole hatching was observed, for example. Data are shared among schools in the basin through internet. In effect, Asaza Project became not only opportunity for schools but for the company to use their main entrepreneurship for the improvement of the lake.

The following map describes the relationship between the actors that are involved in this project.

There are other numerous ways in which asaza project extended its field. The common characteristic of extension, however, seems to rest on the fact that it is up to participants to grow the project. "Non-self-contained" project is a work of actors and so it is designed as inexpensive and voluntary. What do you think?

In the next release, think about what questions you want to ask to actors each group individually be interviewing in Day 3.

Keywords today:

Non-self-contained project, elementary school, Ministry of Construction, farmers, fishers, NEC.


True or False?
___Children learn about not only how to plant asaza but how to distinguish lifecycle, niche, and shape of living organisms so that they acquire skill to see society from perspectives other than humans.
___ Farmers plead Ministry of Construction to build tidegate in order to solve salt damage on their fields.
___ Ministry of Construction wanted to increase water supply for household and industry utilizing Lake Kasumigaura.
___ Fishers shared benefit from construction of tidegate.
___ Under non-self contained concept, Asaza project integrates actors and solutions that were done separately by each actors initially

Open-ended Questions:
*Is your case that you know is non-self contained? Why or why not?
*What information may help you find other keys that helped Asaza Project to attract thousands of people?
*Could you recognize how Asaza Project activities are connected with each other from the activity map below?
(If you would, please enlarge the map)

Introduction for Asaza Project 1

Introduction for Asaza Project 3