REMINDER: upcoming due date – APRIL 6th!!!!!

  • This is a reminder for all students applying for the Human Ecology: Rivers 2015 (HER 2015) course that the application should be done by:

APRIL 6th, 2015

  • The following are to be submitted to :


  1.  Application form (see PDF attached to syllabus)
  2.  Academic transcript (all non-SAIMS students are required to submit a copy)
  3.  copy of TOEFL score (all students except: FLA, Green Science / Engineering, and SAIMS students)
  4.  An essay (800~1,000 words) on why you would like to take this course.
  • The announcement of acceptance will be sent through email on:

APRIL 10th, 2015

I would also like to apologize for any confusions that might have occurred regarding the credits for this course. Though early on, it was announced to be 4 credits, HER 2015 will be worth 2 credits and there will be no further changes.

Good Luck:)!!

due date reminder


Grafting in Fukui

What does it mean when the vegetables that are lined up at supermarkets are labeled “organic”? Sometimes we don’t have the enough time to think about such things. Or sometimes we just don’t care. These terms such as “organic” or “non-GMO” tends to give us the image of being “environmental friendly” or “healthy” choices that are given to us. However, as many of you already know, in the world of business, positive images tend to hide reality from consumers.

I went to Fukui prefecture in early March, to help out a company that produced grafted seedlings. To be honest I had no idea what “grafting” was until I got there. According to the Longman dictionary, “graft” means, “to join a part of a plant or a tree onto another plant or a tree”. Which was exactly the work I was given during my stay. Before learning that this process was a major part of agriculture, I had imagined that the majority of farmers would begin any kind of crop by first planting the seeds. However, it turns out that many farmers would buy the seedlings from grafting companies such as the one that I worked at, then plant them as the first step of growing crops. Currently there are 20 companies in Japan that sells only grafted nursery plants. The question would be, why would there be separate companies producing only grafted plants? or, what are the merits in planting seedlings instead of seeds? One of the major aim of grafting is to produce plants that are stronger than the original by joining the main plants with stable root-stocks. According to one of the workers that I had talked to, by using grafted seedlings, not only can farmers reduce the time needed to grow the plants but increase the percentage of plants successfully bearing fruits. So to state simply, it is one of the choices that farmers take to cut the risk of growing failures that cannot produce profit.

The company is now working on inventing an auto-grafting machine which is estimated to take another year or two. I had a chance to talk to a man who was involved in the invention. Aside from how the invention was going, I asked him what he thought about the “organic” movements that are happening in agricultural scenes around the world. He answered, repeatedly stating that agriculture cannot be done without using pesticides and agrichemicals, at least when it comes to mass production. And as he stated multiple chemicals were being used for the grafted seedlings to grow at a stable pace.
Then, what happens when organic farms buy seedlings from non-organic grafting companies? The answer is simple: they get sold as organic fruits and vegetables as long as they are grown in an organic farm. In other words, the process of how the seedlings were grown wouldn’t matter. Though the man told me that small scaled farms (like most organic farms) wouldn’t usually buy seedlings, the possibility of large enterprises that own “organic” crops, to buy these grafted plants and to grow them to be sold with organic labels, are high.

So going back to making healthy choices for the earth and for our bodies, I am not trying to say that the labels are all false. Nonetheless, it might be worth knowing that there are always possibilities of buying products that seems organic but may not be completely so. If you go deeper into the topic, I am sure that there are many faults that can be found in “friendly” labels. As a consumer, anyone would then ask, how do we make the right choice? I have no answer for this question. But it might just be a signal that safety and mass-production cannot co-exist.






Workshop: Environmental Governance and Development Policy in Southeast Asia

Happy New Years!!! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays!
To start off this year, I would like to share some of the overall content of a workshop that took place on Saturday, January 10th. There were professors and graduate students that were there to present from the University of Amsterdam, University of Kyoto, University of Tokyo and from Sophia.
Here are the abstracts of what each student and professor presented in the order the presentation took place (click on the words in italics to see each PDF):

Jin Sato (Professor, Department of Pioneering Asian Studies, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia,       University of Tokyo) : Colors of the State

Rosita Dewi (PhD Candidate, Center for Southeast Asian Studies , Kyoto University) : Dilemma of Participatory Mapping

Viviane Lopes (M.A. Candidate, Graduate School of Global Studies, Sophia University) : Politicising international development aid: Samal Island and its market-led land reform

Laurens Bakker (Professor, Insitute of Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Amsterdam)

Gerben Nooteboom (Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Amsterdam) : Rural Transformation and Afforestation in Java: Understanding Farm Tree Planting in Central-Java, INDONESIA; Its Reasons and Social Concequences 

Mohamad Shohibuddin (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Amsterdam) : Making Peace or Sustaining Conflict? Securitisation of Land Distribution Programme in Post-War Aceh, Indonesia

Yukari Sekine (M.A. Candidate, Graduate School of Global Studies, Sophia University) : Globalization and local land governance: Mechanisms of confiscation and contentious politics in Myanmar’s Dawei Special Economic zone area

The last commentator of the workshop was Madoka Onizuka from the NGO “Mekong Watch”. Having worked in Burma,her insights on the workshop itself was fascinating. She expressed her thoughts from the perspective of a member of the NGO, stating the field of academia tends to focus on what kinds of conflicts are out in the world, where NGOs are more interested in the solution. Now also working as a yoga instructor, she also included a perspective from a more spiritual point of view, stating that in the field of yoga, all existing sufferance are results of human ignorance of one’s own identity.

The workshop was very informative and I learned something different from each presentation. Half of me is just amazed at how much transition that world is going through, whether it is about farmers replanting trees or securitisation. The other half always feel a sense of hopelessness when I hear such lectures and presentations, because though people are making changes for the better, each transition to solve a conflict, always ends up as the cause of another. And from this sense, the idea of yoga therapy, that the conflicts emerge from a micro more personal level, seems quite understandable. Perhaps it is a dual transition of what could be changed in the society and what could be changed in personal everyday lives, that becomes crucial in aiming for real solutions.

Tancho Cranes

Hello everyone!
I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday seasons!
Today, I would like to introduce a little bit of information about Tancho Cranes that I have learned up in Hokkaido.  It was truly fascinating to hear about the historical backgrounds of these iconic birds of Japan so I thought it might be worth sharing. Kunihito Otonari, a member of the NPO “Tancho Community“, explained to us the conflicts that Tancho Cranes have faced through history and the problems that they are still facing today.

The cranes used to live in the mainlands of Japan and could be found in various places over the country. Japanese have long felt special bonds to these birds and the cranes have grown to be symbolic, partly because of how these birds nest in pairs and how easily they can be tamed, but also because of how the size of the red head signifies the tancho’s feelings. According to Otonari-san, the red part expands when the  cranes get excited or tense, which made it easier for humans to understand these birds and to relate to them. They have also been symbols of good luck, since Edo-period.
For this reason, only the Shogunate could hunt the cranes, and they were mainly hunted for eating, to drink their blood (there was a superstition that drinking tancho blood prolonged human life), or for being made into pets. However, after the Meiji Restoration, the commoners were given permission to hunt the cranes as well. This increased the population of crane hunters resulting in the endangerment of the Tancho Crane specie. By 1952, the numbers dropped to 33. Due to this extremely low number, artificial feeding of the cranes started from 1950, and up to this day, there are still feeders in Japan.
Currently they can only be found in eastern Hokkaido, and the number of cranes are slowly increasing. However, because the cranes have gotten used to being fed, they are only nesting in certain areas. This is causing the over-population of the cranes in small areas, where as a whole, the cranes are still listed as an endangered specie.

Knowing that Tancho Cranes have long had a social function in the Japanese society, we are hoping to look further into the history of these birds and how they have related to the people of Japan. So be ready for further information about Tancho Cranes that might be posted in the future!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading about this red-headed creature aaaaaand…

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

tancho christmas






Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
tancho christmas

EVENT: Environmental Governance and Development Policy in Southeast Asia (Jan. 10th)


Sophia University Graduate School of Global Studies is holding a workshop in January of the coming year.
Here are further descriptions of the workshop:

“Environmental Governance and Development Policy in Southeast Asia”

Studies of Environmental Governance and Development Policy in Southeast Asia have long focused on the roles of the state and the market. However, the 21st century has seen the emergence of new actors and dynamics. The workshop proposes to look at these contemporary issues in the context of globalization, focusing on the case studies from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar.

Date: January 10th, 2015 (Sat.)
Time: 1:00PM – 5:30PM (13:00 – 17:30)
Location: Sophia University, Yotsuya Campus, L-921(Central Library, 9th floor)

Though the focus will be on Southeast Asian countries, this workshop maybe a great way to learn about environmental issues as a whole and to get ready for the “Human Ecology: Rivers” course. One of the teacher’s assistant who helped out in HER2014 will be presenting. Check out further information by clicking on the poster at the very top of this page!
[ If you have any trouble viewing the poster, click here for the PDF : Workshop pamphlet_v5 (1) ]

Here is the timetable and also a short abstract of what the presenters will be talking about:
workshop timetable

Sophia-AIMS International Symposium

Last Saturday, the Sophia-AIMS International Symposium was held on campus.
It started from 9:00 in the morning to late in the evening, and there were many professors including Professors from the University of Toronto and also government officials from the Ministry of Education.
Professor Ito and Professor Watanabe gave a presentation on the Human Ecology: Rivers course and  although we went a little over time, everything else went well, and the audience seemed to be very interested in the course especially when we showed the video of the hokkaido trip of 2014 (which we also have on this blog). After the professors were done with the presentation, participants of HER 2014 were asked some questions(or one question because we didn’t have much time) about the course. I was nervous at first to talk in front of a crowd but thanks to my friend who also took course HER 2014, and to the TA, I was able to live through it! Though it was only a few sentences that I had to say, it was good training for me. It’s always a wonder how Professors are able to give such a long lecture in front of so many students without getting nervous!

I was only able to attend from the latter half of the symposium but one question that stuck in my mind even after the symposium was asked during session 1. It was a question regarding the possibility of one country (of ASEAN courtries) becoming stronger than other countries due to concentration of educational advancement in that country alone. It seemed as if there were no real solution to this problem as of now, but it was interesting to see the contents of what was being discussed at the symposium to make educational systems better in the future.


伊藤教授と渡辺教授もこのシンポジウムの中で、Human Ecology: Rivers の授業についてプレゼンテーションを行いました。少しプレゼン自体は長引いてしまいましたが、(もともと時間がおしていたこともありますが、)全体としては上手くいき、多くの方々にこの夏季授業に興味を持って頂いたような、そんな印象です!特にプレゼンの中で流したビデオには関心をもって頂けたみたいで何よりでした。プレゼンの後は昨年の受講者達の体験談を聞かれました。私もこの体験談コーナーに参加させていただきましたが、正直に言いますとかなり緊張しました!(笑) 一緒に授業を受講した友達とTAの方なしでは生きて終えることができなかったかもしれません…と、ちょっと大袈裟かもしれませんが、本当に人前で話すことを経験するたびに、何百人もの前で授業をしている教授達はすごいな、と尊敬してしまいます。


Dec. Info Session – done!

Hello fellow readers!
I’m Yuri, one of the students helping out with the river project conducted by Professor Ito and Professor Watanabe of Sophia University.

Recently we had our information session for next year’s summer Hokkaido practicum on campus!
Many students came and everything went successfully. Surprisingly, many of the students that came were from the department of English literature. It would be great to have these students apply so we would have students with diverse backgrounds!

For those of you who could not attend the info session, here are some of the questions we had from the students:

Q: What would the actual schedule be like of an ordinary day up in Hokkaido?
A: Here are photos of the schedule that we were handed for this years course. The places that the 2015 course-students will be visiting are different from what is written here, but students will mainly participate in local events and hear lectures.

IMG_0103 IMG_0105


Q: Would the three introductory lectures on campus(before going up to Hokkaido) take place during spring semester?
A: They are scheduled at the very end of the spring semester, during the finals week. Many of this year’s students had a hard time managing their schedule with the amount of assignments and exams. It might be a good idea to work ahead of time so there would be enough time to prepare for the this course!

This course allows students to not only learn about the environment but see with their own eyes, the conflicts that countrysides of Japan are facing. My 9 days up in Hokkaido was very memorable, fun and at the same time informative. And I am sure that HER2015 would be the same or even better!!

Don’t forget to keep yourself updated with any new information that I will be posting now and then about the course!!


上智大学のHuman Ecology: Rivers(HER)プロジェクトのお手伝いをしているゆりです!