(By Daiki Tanaka)
The Ino Journey excursion is the chance for students to experience a world away from their hometown, as well as to try new tasks and propose new solutions for the towns the visit. This will not only aid the towns they visit with new innovative ideas but also provides the students with a chance to contribute and connect with the locals as well.
Our Ino Journey with ANA (All Nippon Airways) had initially been postponed several times due to COVID-19. Finally on October 19th 2021, we were able to invite 31 freshmen high-school students from Kaetsu-Ariake-High-School in Tokyo.
Rather than organising a simple field trip where the students would just walk around, we decided to adopt a comprehensive approach. We came up with a walking tour of Wazuka Town, a hands-on experience of tea farming, a visit to the tea factories, and a tea comparison drinking experience.
For their lunch, we also decided to integrate tea by serving them matcha soba noodles, matcha tan-tan-noodles, and tea desserts. Each step of the way the students also had a chance to give us opinions on how to make things better. For the final day, the students gave a presentation in front of the vice governor of Kyoto and the mayor of Wazuka.
The feedback we received from the young students was extremely refreshing. For example, we had very honest opinions like our hiking tour can be very dangerous due to difference in elevation. Some even voiced that our hiking tour can be boring with the same scenery and muddy shoes. Tea wise, some students answered that the tea was too bitter and it was boring to wait for the hot water to cool down.
On the other hand, some students gave compliments saying that they didn’t know how delicious tea could be, that they enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and were happy to experience harvesting, as well as to learn the story of how our products were created. The students also shared their opinions on ways to invite more tourists to Wazuka Town. As these were extremely interesting so I would like to share a few with you: “Do a presentation on how important exercising and walking different elevations and mountains are”, “A zipline attraction to admire the tea farm”, and “Create an outdoor hot spring in the middle of the tea farm”, among others. All of them were interesting to ponder about.
The students we invited are mostly born and raised in Tokyo and are thus unfamiliar to the culture of tea and the countryside of Wazuka Town. This is why I think they were able to come up with more innovative ideas on how to attract more young people to be interested in nature and the culture of tea.
I think culture can be supported and inherited by young generations. For example, we should not complain about the lack of people using kyusu but instead spread the tradition and joys of drinking tea from a kyusu. We also need to keep young people interested in tea by creating new experiences in the form of desserts, attractions, and other activities.
The Ino Journey has been a fantastic experience and given me the chance to develop new ideas to improve and attract the attention of the younger generation.
Learn more about the other educational programme initiatives d:matcha Kyoto has conducted here.