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Summer Training Program in Japan, a report -Aman Thakur (MSc LS AB Student)

Japan Training summer program towards

SDGs Learning from UNESCO Designated sites

in Japan (Kanazawa University)


After arriving at Narita Airport, Tokyo on 12/10/2022, we we take bus and go to Tokyo railway station, and take bullet train to Kanazawa city, it takes around 3 hours to reach Kanazawa city.


Kanazawa University’s origins date back to a smallpox vaccination centre established by the Kaga Clan in 1862. It is the third oldest university in Japan, founded in 1949, and one of the Hokuriku region’s major institutions of higher education.




At Kanazawa University, during the opening ceremony, Dr. Aida Mammadova brief about the summer training program, and tells this program is focused on UNESCO Designated Sites, mainly Biosphere Reserves which are internationally highly evaluated areas with the aim to conserve rich ecosystem and biodiversity, and achieve sustainable development in terms of culture, economy and society. An intergenerational dialog will be provided through inside Japanese UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and other protected areas, and all participants will learn about the co-existence between nature and people, and development of eco-entrepreneurship activities.


Visit to UNU-IAS OUIK: OUIK is a unique unit that has been operated jointly by the Japanese regional governments of Ishikawa Prefecture and Kanazawa City, and the organization of the United Nations. Directly connecting regional fields and the world has enabled OUIK to carry out a wide range of activities through innovative approaches that cannot be found elsewhere. OUIK is engaged in community-based research to preserve Ishikawa’s biocultural diversity. Ishikawa’s Satoyama and Satoumi have not only produced the food culture, traditional crafts, architecture and landscapes of each region; they have also facilitated the development of the urban culture of Kanazawa for generations. In addition to promoting level collaboration among regions, OUIK seeks a new, creative relationship between the city and Satoyama-Satoumi that goes beyond the conventional relationship of a supply area and a consuming area.


Visit to Shiramine: Shiramine District may have nearly 4m of snow in winter. One of Japan’s most snowy areas has developed their special architecture style, and has a national preservation district for groups of historic buildings. The head of the village, Yamagishi's family residence with khaki-colored walls and vertical windows, and homes built in Edo and Meiji Periods still stand to this day.




The district is dotted with wooden homes converted into restaurants and shops. Shiramine‘s specialties, Oroshi Udon noodles and bota rice cake, tochi rice cake, homemade red perilla juice, tochi rice cracker, traditional firm tofu, etc. are sold. We had fun exploring cafes and shops & stopped by at a workshop where Shiramine’s traditional Ushikubi-tsumugi is hand woven.


Hakusan Folk Village Museum at the Base of Mount Hakusan: A walk through this museum, at the foot of Hakusan National Park, will give you a real feel for the how agricultural townsfolk used to live and work in the mountains. There are 6 old houses, moved in perfect condition from their original sites to the museum grounds, along with 12,000 artifacts. The opportunity to see such houses in Japan is extremely rare, and here you are able to walk freely through the rooms, giving you a chance to see a part of the "Real Japan". On account of having one of the largest accumulations of snow in Japan, the museum is closed during the winter.




Main Exhibition Building: This building introduces various aspects of the base of Hakusan such as the history of bakufu land ownership, Dezukuri culture and the Hakusan religion. Many folk artefacts and old scripts, of which some are National Designated Tangible folk culture assets are displayed.


Former Bita Residence: It ran as a Dezukuri farm house for 5 generations spanning over 100 years between the end of the Edo period till 1970. it has been labelled as the Nabai hut as it looks like a thatched-roof hut from the outside due to its roof that extends to the ground. Despite its raw construction it has a large living space.





Former Sugihara residence: The Sugihara residence was a private house in the former Shiramine village, Kuwajima district, and the building was owned by generations of wealthy farmer families who worked as village officials during the Edo period. During the modern era various business practices took place including silkworm raising, alcohol brewing, financial operations and the of daily goods.


Mount Hakusan Biosphere reserve: It was designated as a Biosphere reserve in 1980 when the concept of economic and social development function was still in its infancy. Mt. Hakusan did not set the optional transition area. The importance of sustainable development was later recognized and all the three zones became mandatory.

  • Core Area: Strictly protected by laws and laws-based programs.; Long – term conservation

  • Buffer zone: Zone acting as a buffer for the core area; Education, training and ecotourism

  • Transition area: Residential area; Area for community and economic development.


Japanese rural areas which represents the harmonious coexistence between nature and culture started to decline, because of the rapid industrialization and the shift from rural-based to urban-based economic. This resulted in land use decline, field abandonment and depopulation of the rural areas, and there is an urgent need to educate the youth to act towards regional conservation and regeneration. Universities can play a fundamental role to educate the youth by integrating of scientific knowledge together with local communities, and promoting the research for the solutions of regional issues. However, BRs concept is not applied to the local academic institutions as a learning sites for the sustainable development.

Human population in Shiramine is 855. The major industry is forestry and agriculture. Due to the hilly landscapes the forestry, slash-and-burn cultivation, silk raising and hunting were the main practices in the village for many generations. The main lifestyle of the village was named seasonal Dezukuri which was practiced until the middle of 20th century. This is the method when, during the agricultural seasons of slash-and-burn (May through November) people were living in the houses at the mountains, and by winter coming (December to April) they were going back to the village. Thanks to the unique lifestyle, well-learned skills of food preservation practice, charcoal production, specific house construction techniques, gathering medical herbs and others, in Shiramine the people were able to live in the mountain side all year round, even during the heavy snowfalls and harsh winter times. Due to the advanced well-living skills, Shiramine became one of the leading villages in Dezukuri practice in entire Ishikawa and Fukui Prefecture.


The mission of the Hukusan alpine Botanical Garden is to prevent the extinction of the alpine flora of the Hakusan mountains, and thus to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.


All species belonging to the ecosystem (the alpine zone of the Hakusan Mountains) are targets for preservation. This conservation and propagation project is in many ways a pioneering challenge.


The Hakusan Alpine Botanical Garden was built on a bare lifeless mountain where a mulberry field failed to grow and it was said that nothing could grow there. The efforts of many people have transformed this barren land into a paradise for alpine plants.


The Hakusan Alpine Botanical Garden is open to the public for only one and a half months in early summer. This is because the alpine plants bloom one after another during this short period.


Kampo medicine: Kampo medicine is a medical system that has been systematically organized based on the reactions of the human body to therapeutic interventions. With its roots in ancient Chinese medicine, this antecedent form of empirical medicine was introduced to Japan in approximately the 5th to 6th century. It subsequently developed into a unique form of medicine by adapting to the climate and culture of Japan, and was further refined to suit the constitutions of the Japanese people before evolving into a distinct form of traditional medicine. Kampo also differs from traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Korean medicine. In fact, Kampo medicine is a uniquely Japanese form of medicine.


Japanese kampo is made from natural ingredients—mainly plants, sometimes with minerals and animal products included. Some of the core plant ingredients include:

Ginger , Cinnamon , Licorice , Medicinal mushrooms , Ginseng , Pinellia ,Perilla , Magnolia bark


Japanese kampo is used to treat a wide range of health conditions from the common cold to anxiety, PMS, stomach issues, headaches, muscle pain, acne and even as a complementary therapy as part of cancer treatment protocols. Japanese kampo is designed to treat the whole body, rather than simply the symptoms of an illness, and the recommended formulations will depend on each person’s unique constitution. Before prescribing kampo, a doctor will typically check the patient’s tongue, abdomen and pulse, as well as their blood pressure. kampo may be dispensed as a complementary therapy, together with conventional medicine, or as a treatment on its own.


In Japan: Doctors and drug stores

If you’re in Japan, you have two options: getting a prescription from a doctor, or buying OTC at a drug store. Many general practitioners will be happy to give you a script for kampo if you ask (if you don’t ask, they might assume you don’t know what it is, and aren’t interested in it), which you can then get filled at the chemist. Kampo is covered by Japanese health insurance, making this route the more affordable one.


Traditional Chinese Medicine is also available in Japan, but it is not prescribed by Japanese medical doctors, nor is it covered by Japanese health insurance. You can find it at the offices of specialist TCM practitioners, TCM stores, and some pharmacies. The much higher price tag is an easy way to tell the difference between TCM and kampo in Japan.


Museum of Materia Medica University of Toyama: The most numerous materials kept in Museum are Chinese crude drugs used in the system of traditional Chinese medicine, consisting of one third of the total number, followed by Indian crude drugs used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. From several countries in the world, this museum has been collecting crude drug samples used in the Traditional System of medicine and ethnomedicine which various ethnic groups have developed in own country. These samples are collected and displayed for the purpose of research and education. The Museum keeps and displays crude drugs (19,000 samples indexed and 8, 000 samples under process of index), herbarium (32,000 samples indexed and 37,000 samples under process of index), pharmaceutical preparations of crude drugs (200 samples), materials of the local medicine dealership, herbological books, and so on. The most numerous materials kept in Museum are Chinese crude drugs used in the system of traditional Chinese medicine, consisting of one third of the total number, followed by Indian crude drugs used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. In addition, the crude drugs used in traditional medicines of Tibet, Mongolia, Indonesia (Jamu), Thailand and Arabic countries (Unani medicine), as well as folk medicines used in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, East Africa, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Europe (medicinal herbs), are also exhibited. This is the biggest museum of crude drugs in the world, concerning the number of items held in. Most of the items including crude drugs have significant educational, scientific and historical value.


Last day visit to UNU university Tokyo:



Learning Experience: The traditional culture of Kanazawa is mainly derived from the biological diversity of the city and the linkage between the bio-cultural diversity can be clearly observed in the gardens and tea-ceremonies. Gardens, considered as unique hubs for urban biodiversity, provide the habitant for the diverse network of living organisms. We also learned how to achieve the SDGs. And know about the traditional culture, food, houses of the Japan and what are the main issues they are facing. The main thing we learned about the kampo medicine was how it originates and from where they take raw material. It was a great learning experience for me and I really enjoyed this 12 days trip to Japan. The main thing I learned from the Japan trip is to always do work in a well disciplined manner and always it in time.