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Rice paddy in the city center, our "Waseden"

Tomomi Masuda
Jung-Soo Shin

A long time ago rural scenes could be found at WASEDA as far as the eye could see. In fact, our name came from "Wase," an early-ripening rice plant, which used to be cultivated here to prepare for floods from the Kanda River. In the Heisei era, there were no rice paddies at WASEDA, but in 2004, it returned to the Okuma Garden. Reclaimed to a paddy field by "Nogakujuku," a student NPO, the small paddy named "Waseden" has been carefully cultivated by Professor Kenji Horiguchi, Advisor, and current and past members with strong commitment. Waseden now is a precious place to experience agriculture in the city, giving fresh stimulation to students and children in the community.

Rice reaping ceremony held on October 10
From left: Mr. Masuda, Professor Emeritus Minehiro Nakajima, Professor Horiguchi and Mr. Maeda, Administrator of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Tomomi Masuda, a representative of Nogakujuku, was raised in a vast rural area in Toyama Prefecture. She came to Tokyo upon entering university, but as she felt lonely among the inhuman urban landscape, joined Nogakujuku. "I was not raised in a farming household, but agriculture was certainly part of the landscape," she recalls. "I didn't expect to experience full-scale agriculture in Tokyo. (Laughing). As I was appointed representative this year, we herald, "Expand," as our theme, partner with "minori," an organic agriculture club from Kyoto University to study the poor growth of rice due to global warming and are engaged in activities to provide opportunities to experience 'agriculture' including the installation of rice grown in buckets and threshing experiences, not just agricultural experiences."

Jung-Soo Shin was born in Seoul, South Korea. Interested in international cooperation, he now studies in Japan. His dream is to create a place where everyone around the world go beyond the barriers of nationality and race and get along with each other heart to heart. At Nogakujuku, he is in charge of the International Section, which was established this year and bears a mission to "expand" the activities of Nogakujuku, stepping across borders. He addresses an international exchange project through agriculture and has realized a cooperative project between Nogakujuku and the WASEDA University International Community Center. "Young people tend to shun agriculture both in Japan and Korea, but you cannot learn the joy of it unless you actually participate in it. I believe relationships start with exchange."

Tilling fields, sowing seeds, and cultivating field crops mean days of struggle with nature. The members of Nogakujuku care for and develop Waseden as if it were their own child, by checking if animals have attacked the fields and whether the crops are infected. "Things have gone wrong countless times. For example, the vegetables we had taken such pains with withered before harvest. For every occasion like that, we investigate the cause and study so as not to repeat the mistake," Tomomi says. This year, they struggled against sparrows that pecked the ears of the rice. "Even when we spread a net over the crop, they came in a group, slackened the net and still pecked at the ears of the rice. While we felt we had them beaten, we were impressed with the cleverness of the sparrows," Jung-Soo says. Failures and efforts they experienced through agriculture gave them opportunities for discoveries and contrivances.

Nogakujuku has given chances to expand the views of many people through "agricultural" experiences. What has Nogakujuku given to Tomomi and Jung-Soo? "A dream," Tomomi says. "By experiencing agriculture, I feel a stronger love for my hometown. In the future, I want to give what I have learned at Nogakujuku back to my hometown. I also hope that Waseden will be maintained by junior students and become like a hometown for WASEDA students some day." Jung-Soo says, "Experiencing agriculture, I have learned the efforts and joy of farmers and the preciousness of food. I want to experience everything for my dream and taste its essence." The two lovingly look at the eyes of rice at Waseden. The time to harvest their dreams is not in the distant future.

Rice reaping ceremony 2012 with Professor Atsuyuki Kamiya, Director of WAVOC, (third from the left, front row) and Assistant Professor Megumi Akiyoshi of WAVOC in charge of Nogakujuku (extreme left, front row)

Professor Horiguchi, Advisor of Nogakujuku who will retire next March. Representing the group, Tomomi handing him a flower bouquet with gratitude for his many years of service

The 02cafe, near WASEDA Campus, plans to use the glutinous rice harvested in Waseden to make rice cakes

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Tomomi Masuda (right)

Born in Toyama. Graduated from Toyama Prefectural Takaoka High School. 3rd Year, School of Advanced Science and Engineering. Her favorite books are paperbacks form Seikaisha. She introduces himself as "Increasing rice paddies Masuda! (Her family name literally means to increase rice paddies). During a break or when you come to WASEDA, please visit Waseden to get in touch with 'agriculture.'"

Shin Jung-Soo (left)

Born in Seoul, South Korea. Graduated from Kyung-Bok High School. 2nd Year, School of Political Science and Economics. He travels to different places to get in touch with people. "I would like to go on a home stay program with a Masai tribesmen family for three days in summer vacation through the WAVOC project."