Understanding environment through culture, UEHIRO×WASEDA Seminar series

An Experience Gave Us A Sense of Ethics

Final report by Aino Owada


An Experience Gave Us A Sense of Ethics

Final Report

Understanding the Environment through Culture

Aino Owada


  It was a great pleasure for me to join the class, “Understanding the Environment through Culture” and to learn things both from lectures and fieldworks to Kamakura and Takahata. Through this class, I gained a lot of lessons including things significant but often missed to recognize – especially by people in the city. This is because it is (or seems) trivial, indirect or even invisible in urban area, where a large amount of second or third information precedes. My experience through the fieldwork specifically in Takahata enabled me to SEE, FEEL, and CAPTURE them properly based on the reality. It indeed made me ponder our future with ETHICS in the end. Put it in another way, not just knowledge, this class brought us a sense of philosophy, ethics, value to be a HUMAN – not a robot. 


As a whole, I learned from this class:

How much important to “Experience 1st”

and “Obtain Knowledge afterwards” to wrap up and keep our memory alive.


The following is what I gained from Takahata field trip.

◎Experience awe in Nature

I experienced the Greatness of Nature by seeing this Takahata rock wall. Mr.Sato, the guide told us it had a long history and was deeply rooted in the area. We saw many houses surrounded by fences made from this rock later on. I found, at the same time, there was no word to express this natural color made of soil. It was beyond 12 colors of crayons. 


This green leaf stimulated my sense of wonder. I still do not know what it really was, but seemed rolled leaf created by natural artist – perhaps insects. Just a small findings enriched my life with a smile. I also saw a lot of tiny frogs hopping in the grass. It proved me no use of bad chemical pesticides here and how healthy state of nature can be maintained. 


◎Perceiving hidden affairs

When we went to the farm of Mr. Nakagawa, one of the pioneers of organic farming since 1970s, we had a chanced to perceive hidden affairs of grape farming. Unlike usual packed grapes in the supermarket, we saw grapes with a stem. To my surprise, Mr. Nakagawa told us he was supposed to pick several grapes above in order to adjust a size for a package based on the market standard. From this experience, I noticed the sad contradiction between the needs of table and market.


◎Lessons from a primary source

The experience in farming broke my stereotype of agriculture. In the beginning, I thought myself understanding it well enough: It must be hard since we need to be outside all day long, also it requires strong muscles. In real, however, it requires not just muscles but patience, much more than I expected. We needed to keep our neck tilted about 45 degree to prune branches of grapes.


Through this fieldwork, I achieved to gain a sense of ethics

-by getting involved in activity in real

-by making a people to people connection

-by perceiving connection with the whole creation.

In addition, after the fieldwork, my mind smoothly absorbed the impressive idea from Professor Hara and Professor Yoshikawa that “Environment consists of Nature, Human and Culture”.

Last but not least, I would like to show my deepest appreciation for all who gave me this great opportunity to be exposed in the class and activities: Special thanks for the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education!


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