On Monday (August 17), students were first split into groups and offered the opportunity to experience some of the activities that are available to the guests of Kusu no Ki: bamboo cutting (e.g. water gun), small crafts (e.g. decoration of photo frames), and sushi making. There was also a guided tour of the surroundings of the guest-house by Mr Kitami, the manager of the establishment.
The afternoon started with a lecture by Professor Ohe on how the case-study of Kusu no Ki can help us consider new directions in community-based tourism in super ageing societies such as Japan. The lecture was followed by a long (2 hours, see video below) Q&A session with Professor Ohe and Mr Kitami, on the issues associated with depopulated areas such as the south of the Bōsō peninsula, and the problems faced by Kusu no Ki. Mr Kitami had already provided answers to a long questionnaire prepared in advance by Chiba University students during the pre-course education, and later updated with the help of AUTh students. This afternoon session was an invaluable opportunity for students to solve all of their most basic questions about Kusu no Ki, before moving on to start thinking about specific issues that they would like to solve through their work.
After dinner, Mr Kitami had arranged for 3 representatives of the local administration, 2 civil servants from the town hall, 2 kitchen staff and 2 night guards of Kusu no Ki, to come and talk to us in groups. Students learned about the degree to which the project is community-based, the support offered by the town hall, and the feelings of the staff/volunteers who work at Kusu no Ki on a daily basis.
Q&A Session with Professor Ohe and Mr Kitami