When Marnie was there

After coming back from Hokkaido, Minami and I went to see “When Marnie was there” by Ghibli. In the beginning of the movie Anna (the short haired Japanese girl) goes to Kushiro to spend summer there for relief from asthma. This scene shows the beautiful landscape that looks just like the place we were staying. I really liked how the Ghibli staff had observed details of the wetland landscape. Even the trees were accurate, with both conifer trees and broad-leaved trees. However, I couldn’t help thinking about bug attacks when Anna was drawing by the wetland. This movie really made me want to go back to Kushiro again. Highly recommended!

I came across an article that said an organization called “釧路生まれのマーニーズ” (Marnies born in Kushiro) was established, to promote and vitalize Kushiro. It would make a map of the movie, offer special menus in restaurants (I don’t know what this is going to be like), and replication of Marnie’s house. It is said that the mayor is also a member of the organization. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a website and I couldn’t find out what they actually do. It is a shame because I am sure many people who have watched this film would like to visit Kushiro, but the city is not good at promoting itself.



The Bay

         What can be more fun than getting to wear what they called the ‘wader’. A suit that is used to wade in the water without getting yourself wet that looks like the ‘Slipknot’s’ jumpsuit? After visiting the observation deck, we moved to a new location and then we were taken to the marine station where we got to board the ship in order to take samples of weeds and some sea creatures.  Professor Nakaoka Masahiro was the guide for us as he lectured us on the way. We caught some prawn, flat fish, amphipod etc. That was the first time I saw and amphipod.
      We met some students from the Hokkaido university on their field research and we were educated on different species and natures of these creatures and plants. After that we went to the mountain near the museum for lecture.
  The most fascinating thing there was the beauty of the area which connected land to the sea. It is like a perfect area for both sea-lives and land animals such as deer and at the same time for  the birds too. 



Project: Prodigal Son

   This project focused on consultation and marketing with the objectives of having work force return to Hokkaido or migrate to the region. The project will be taking the carrot principal and try to adapt the area intrinsicly towards the needs of the migrants. In this case, the focus of the migrants would be the younger working generation. The evaluation stated that the major demands of these group of people consist of properties such as:
    If these needs are met, there would be a really good chance able to attract the people back to the area. The solution should focus on something like, using the media to recognize the occupations such as farming, forestry, wild life protection etc. to form a new persona. Creates community network and improve connectivity for the user and finally a cross exposition where allowing the people to travel to and fro from the region to urban parts easily. And of course, economics incentives should be there too.

(Note: this is an outlined idea based on feasibility assumptions)

A Walk to Remember!

    Under the guidance of Professor Watanabe, we went to observe fireflies near the lake at night and we decided to play his game. The game was to walk in the darkness through the wood until we reached the Observatory deck in the middle of the forest. The trail was rough and not to mention being blinded by pure darkness on a moonless night. The darkness was so tense that it seems like the light skinned people were glowing.
       The walk began with everyone holding on to the people in front of them and slowly move through the trail. Obviously, the sense of sight became useless when all you could do was to use the sense of ‘fear’ and sense of ‘definitely not sight’. It took quite a while to reach to the watch tower and halfway at one point we thought we got lost. The first thing in my mind was hoping not to encounter any bear in the jungle since I was very sure that it would not be a good experience. Eventually, we managed to reached our destination after a long wander in the dark. A lesson learned from this game was that once a person is overexposed to the use of one specific senses, their other senses became weak. To conclude, a blind people are probably as normal as us. Just like how we are familiar to the use of sight as the main source of perception, they must also be familiar with not using it at all.
   Hopefully, Professor Watanabe would come up with some more interesting idea for the student in the next badge.

A Bird of Two Tales : Part 2

   Previously, we went through on the story of the Tancho and the community that are actively working to feed them. At that time, all we knew about the birds were their good and elegant background, but doubts started to rise when we visited the Dairy farm in that village.
      Even though the owner of the farm did not openly said that Tancho are troublesome, yet his expression spoke on how much he dislike the birds. He stated that the Tancho came and stole food from the cows, assault them, devastate the plants and caused millions of yen worth of damage. The worse thing that he was scared of is the spreading of the avian flu on the cow which could resulted in him having to kill all his cows. There is very little he could do to prevent this since these birds are protected by law and the people in the area sees them as sacred.

      We also went to the Akesshi waterfowl observation center, where we got to talk with Shibuya san who was an expert in the field. His opinion was very different from those of Tancho community. Unlike the feeding team, he explained that feeding actually caused the harm which prevent the bird’s migration and thus lead to the diversification in the species. Not to forget, Tancho are very aggressive when it comes to control their territory. Each Tancho pair would take up to 4 sq. km and thus caused an insufficient division in area of the wetland.  As a result, the dominant ones took over the territories and the remaining were exiled to go around and wreak havoc the farms around for food.


A Bird of two Tales : Part 1

    Even among the birds, there were birds that human considered as elite and normal. As for this case, this is the story of Tancho bird or the red head crane which resided in the area of wetland in both Kushiro and Akkeshi. Historically, these birds were only allowed to be hunted by the samurai and elites due to the fact that they were seen as sacred and the belief that their blood could grant immortality (which it obviously does not). Later after the lifting of the restriction, people over hunted them and that caused them to almost go extinct and were put under the protection zone once again.
      We saw the first Tancho near the Tsurui Village Community center and to put it word, the flight of the Tancho was just pure elegance. And for the information, the red tip of the head is skin and not feather. It is said that the red part become bigger, when the bird are either in distress or excitement. Otonari san who is the director of the Tancho feeding community was there to guide us around and give us lectures about the wellbeing of the bird in the area. We also met a lady who preferred to be called as ‘baba’, who dedicated most of her life towards taking care and feeding the birds. The Tancho are adored and admire by the group of people and activities and facilities are organized in order to promote feeding and sighting these birds. Tancho are also becoming really popular among the photographers.

‘Clean day’ I guess

    There is nothing better than gathering together on a Saturday morning and do some community work. So, we headed off to Hosooka Observation deck for the clean day event. Basically, we just have to go there and pick up some trashes along the pathway that they ask us to. Everyone was given a plastic bag to put the trashes and sent off to walk around. Sounds fun and productive, Right?

    Well the problem is that the objective of this event is really vague. I am still not sure whether this is to actually clean the road or is it just to promote interactions. Assuming this is for just community interactive purpose, then it was very disappointing that we didn’t even have chance to talk or observe the locals. Well, from the latter perspective, the event resulted in discarding of more plastic bags than trashes collected. This is due to a lot of people walking on the same way to look for trashes which ended up with people in the front picked everything up and people behind carrying empty bags which ended up in the bin. Therefore, I am still wondering whether I should consider the event a success or an epic failure.
    From my honest opinion, I think the idea is actually really good, but the organizing was lacking. The proportion of the attendees and the area cleaning up is not synchronizing. But hopefully, they would improve the next event based on the evaluation received from all the attendees.