Understanding environment through culture, UEHIRO×WASEDA Seminar series

Nature and Culture final report – Aino Owada

Nature and Culture – Final Report

Aino Owada


No one would disagree with the concept of sustainable life to keep our commons with ecological ethics. There is, however, a large gap between ideal concepts and behaviors in reality – as Greta Thunberg actively warns against inaction on the climate crisis.


The final symposium held on January 24th made us think deeply about it – how to encourage people to be responsible for the environmental issue on a daily basis. 20 students with diverse backgrounds joined the workshop and had a fishbowl discussion to enclose the class.


Through the symposium, I learned the importance of NOTICING the fact that “what goes around comes around” in the context of relationships between nature and humans. It has been hard to be recognized as only a few people (for now) are physically suffered from things caused by climate change. The workshop at that time also gave me tips on how to PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES and THINK. The following are 4 steps I believe essential to achieve it.

  1. Experience by Ourselves
  2. Be Aware of the Reality
  3. Gain Knowledge to Organize Thoughts and Feelings
  4. Share it with Other People 


Thankfully, it was all covered by the class contents: 1)fieldwork to Takahata and Kamakura 2)notice and findings from the fieldwork 3)lectures about the definition, history, social systems and so on in class 4)final symposium on January 24th. Here I will pick up 1) and 4) to explain in detail:


1)  Fieldwork to Takahata

 (we also went to Kamakura but I would describe lessons from Takahata for this time)


Experience packaging fruit juice with stickers on – at Mr. and Mrs. Nakagawa’s house




Found a lot of heavy labor and manual work such as putting stamps on package

— much room to be improved with technology




Ancient wisdom to decrease waste – MOMIGARA of rice for package cushioning



TOISHI, which gave us good tips for a post-consumer society



Baskets made of the vine of AKEBI



Words from Mr. Hoshi, a pioneer of organic farming 




4) The Final Symposium

In the workshop, my group Spirit talked about wildfires recently happened in Australia and California. It was a great topic to see “Our harming the environment comes back as damages to us” by making sure the structure of victims and criminals of the fire. Some people lost lives, homes, and infrastructures while others can be criminals unconsciously – That is, an increase of CO2 causes climate change such as heatwaves and droughts, which triggers or worsens wildfires. Even though humans applied to both victims and criminals from mankind’s perspectives, we continue harming the environment without noticing it due to a narrow mind.


All in all, I found a big  potential in “having a mankind perspective” to take global matters personally. To do so, PEOPLE to PEOPLE CONNECTION would be the key to broaden our views by sharing thoughts, feelings, and personal experiences on it with others.


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!


The images below imply that wildfires are not “wild” anymore — it threatens city areas nowadays.
Red dots represent hotspots where wildfires can be happening and white ones for lights that humans produced.

Images: satellite imagery around Sydney (daytime and night time) on Dec 20th to 21st  (from Nasa Worldview




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