Japan through the lens of food, place and sustainability
Read Barry Ness, associate professor at LUCSUS’ travel reflection:
Can place attachment be fostered through local food traditions? Can regional food dishes and cooking traditions in Japan be used to foster social sustainability in a steadily urbanizing and aging society?
These were a few of the questions that a group from the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School in Sustainability Science – Global Leadership Initiative (GPSS-GLI) concentrated on for the final phase of Global Field Exercise (GFE) educational activities in Gojome town, Akita Prefecture. Also participating from LUCSUS were David Harnesk and Sanna Stålhammar.
Taking place from February 10th-18th, the GFE was the second of three annual activities to understand the complex issues of rural depopulation and aging in Japan - through the lens of sustainability research methods training for students. The group included a mix of Master’s and PhD students from Japan, Sweden, Kenya, China, India, Thailand, Pakistan and Malaysia and Indonesia guided by an international instructor group from Japan, Kenya and Sweden.
In small thematic groups, students conducted interviews, field observations, and focus group studies with city officials, business leaders, students, and other members of the community. Participants also partook in a number of local food-relevant excursions and demonstrations, other activities including the town market, sushi making and beer tasting, throughout their time in the pristine, mountainous and snowy region.
Days were often long and the group work was sometimes intense. The findings from the work in the forms of a photo collection and posters were presented in a public exhibition on Friday, February 17th in at the Monokatari Gallery in Gojome.
In addition, a short film highlighting student activities also has been produced.
/Barry Ness, associate professor.