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Team Maruyama : Seeking a sustainable lifestyle

Living in cities nowadays being surrounded by technology and facility makes everything looks easy, fast and convenient. But this kind of lifestyle can cause environmental pollution and produce wastrels. It is a comfortable life, but unsustainable. In Noto area, there is a small town named Mii in Wajima City, where a group of people who try to live in a harmonious way with nature and also seek for a sustainable lifestyle.

                        Team Maruyama, a group of people from various backgrounds, occupations, genders and generations, is a platform for learning sustainable life. In my study trip to Noto with my peers of the GPCRM, I met Yuki and Kiichiro Hagino. They are a couple,and were originally from Tokyo. They are founders of team Maruyama, who organize all the activities for Team Maruyama. Kiichiro studied architectureand was originally interested in western architecture.  Later, Kiichiro got a scholarshipandmoved to The United States with his family.There, he studied architecture and worked at an architecture office. Meanwhile, Yukitook many paper making classes and became interested in washi (traditional Japanese paper) there. But they had to move back to Tokyo because scholarship was terminated.

            After returning to Tokyo, Yuki wanted to have more experience of making washi. An American friend advised her to visit Mii in Noto, where there was a traditional Japanese paper making studio. After visiting Noto, she felt like it was just like her hometown for the local people were so nice and kind. Since then they would come to Mii Town every summer.  Yuki and her husband then moved to Noto finally in 2004, and built a house on a hill near Maruyama, in Japanese, a small round shaped mound.

             Living in Mii, many ideas flew in to her from the locals about living self-sufficient life. Local wisdom is new ideas for her, such as how to dry vegetables without electricity. She was deeply impressed by the lifestyle of the locals and wanted to share these knowledge to the outsiders. Therefore, Yuki organized a group called “Maruyama-gumi (Team Maruyama)” for sharing and exchanging knowledge. There gathered people from various backgrounds such as local people, scientists,children and housewives to join the activities of this group.

Team Maruyama gathers once a month for learning and surveying how many plants and what kind of plant and creatures exist around the area.They also monitor biodiversity and collect data about plants and insects of their location, and later send the records to the Ministry of the Environment of Japan.

After monitoring, they cook together using some ingredients that they collect during the monitoring. They cook and eat local or creative dishes that are in season with local material.As an annual activity, for example, they plant soybeans between the rice paddies, after the harvest they make soy sauce and dessert from the soybean leftovers. They also provide education in sustainable development for local elementary school children with natural experience workshop. So, in short, I could say the Team Maruyama is an organization where people come and share about self-sufficient life and sustainable lifestyle. 

    What I have learnt from this trip to Maruyama is living with biodiversity helps people maintain sustainable future. It is not an easy work to make people realize how important the natural gifts are. But Team Maruyama is trying to share the knowledge about biodiversity and also share the local wisdom that they learned from the local in the community in the form of actions. They determine to preserve and transmit the beauty of nature and biodiversity to the future generation through the form of actions, although they have to put a lot of time and effort. (H. J.)