Hokkaido is the second largest island in Japan and is located at the northern end of Japan. Niseko Town is one of the magnificent places we visited during our study tour to Hokkaido. It attracts tourists from all over the world to come and enjoy skiing, food, nature and onsens where tourists can experience Japanese culture.
During the study tour, we visited Niseko Senior High school where we were able to better understand the interaction between local people including high school students with the local government in order to achieve the environmental development and SDG goals. According to the presentation by a high school student, Niseko Town has been named as one of the “SDG Future Cities” and is working to become a sustainable tourist spot. It is important to note that Niseko has won the TOP 100 Sustainable Tourism Destinations Award by Green Destinations for two consecutive years. As a result, Niseko Town meets the international standards of sustainable tourism accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. It is worth mentioning that to achieve these kinds of results, people in Niseko worked together by contributing their efforts to make positive changes in the town. To build a developed environment, it is vital that every member of the community participate and contribute to the wellbeing of the society as in the example of Niseko Town.
During the activity at school, we did “origami” with high school students which was fun and informative for me. I got to know that usually children do origami from kindergarten as one of the activities. As one of the members of the activity told me, ori means “folding” and gami is “paper”, which is paper folding. Origami is not just a part of the game, but it is an art of paper folding which is part of Japanese culture. Through this activity I got to know that these high school students are open-minded and friendly, eager to learn and share their knowledge.
In the picture below there are origamis made by us with the help of the high school students.
High school students actively engage in community issues and can at any time propose their ideas and views toward certain issues. As one of the presenters informed, they learn at Niseko High School, as one of the topics- sustainable tourism in Niseko Town. During the classes, they discuss what Niseko Town should do in order to become a leader in sustainable tourism. High school students during the discussions have found many issues and challenges Town is facing to become a more sustainable tourism destination, which are the lack of sustainable tourism programs for tourists and the other is the lack of awareness of sustainability in general. I was amazed by the high interest of high school students to bring positive changes to the community they live in.
Developments start from children since they are the future faces of the country. That’s why it is necessary to teach children starting from high school to care about the environment and engage in community issues to keep them aware and make contributions. Based on the raised challenges in Niseko Town during the discussion, high school students created a sustainable tourism program that aligns with Niseko Town’s tourism vision.Besides active discussions during the classes about the challenges that Niseko town has, high school students attend different places to get to know about the issues not only theoretically, but also practically. Study tours for high school students can be organized by school administration and local government, to educate children about the root causes of the issues and importance of their contribution to develop the environment and solve the existing problems in Niseko town. These kinds of tours can motivate high school students to create and implement programs for the sake of the environment and people in Niseko.
The Hokkaido Niseko High School is surrounded by mountains and greens all around the school. As it is shown in the picture below, beautiful scenery and fresh air are the additional charms high school students can enjoy while studying.
The climate in Niseko totally differs from the Tsukuba area, the level of humidity is much lower than in Tsukuba. Additionally, I noticed that food is more delicious here in Niseko than in other parts of Japan, since local people try to make original tastes by renewing their recipes which attracts not only foreign tourists but also tourists from other parts of Japan.
Niseko Town is the best example of cooperation among the government, high school students, citizens and entrepreneurs. Cooperation can bring extraordinary results in community development by solving the issues by each side’s contributions. Other countries should take into consideration the example of Niseko Town in working jointly with the members of the society to achieve the development of the local area.