Civil Society

June 16, 2016


Organic Itabashi Cotton Makes Full Circle Back to Hirono Town as Part of Disaster Reconstruction Efforts

Keywords: Civil Society / Local Issues Disaster Reconstruction 

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The Tohoku Fukko Nikki (Tohoku Reconstruction Diary) is an article series in the Tokyo Shimbun written by JKSK's Yui-Yui Project staff to deliver news and stories about reconstruction efforts in the areas devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Here, JFS introduces an article published December 18, 2015, featuring an initiative supporting organic cotton cultivation by residents of Itabashi Ward in Tokyo, written by the director of a non-profit-organization (NPO) that promotes "eco-life" in Itabashi.

"We cultivated 1.1 kilograms of brown cotton and 500 grams of white cotton in Itabashi Ward. At the harvest festival in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, on November 22, 2015, we handed some of our fluffy cotton to Emiko Yoshida, the representative director of the Iwaki Otento SUN Enterprise Cooperative, which is based in Iwaki City, Fukushima.

The Itabashi Cotton Project was established this year to cultivate cotton in cooperation with citizens in Itabashi, Tokyo. The project had started after an encounter with the Fukushima Organic Cotton Project, operated mainly in Iwaki.

In June 2014, invited by JKSK (Empowering Women Empowering Society), a non-profit-organization (NPO), eight volunteers from Itabashi had joined in the planting of seedlings in cotton fields in Hirono.

While sweating under a blazing sun, we imagined a scene of grown seedlings and had a strong desire to do something as Itabashi residents towards revitalizing Fukushima and Hirono. We joined in harvesting the cotton in autumn, impassioned by yellow flowers like from the okra plant and the fluffy cotton peering out from a breach in the cotton balls. We wanted to share our experiences to connect with many people in Hirono Town through cotton.

Later, on May 16, 2015, the Itabashi Cotton Project invited Ms. Yoshida to make a report about reconstruction efforts after the disaster and then seeded a flower garden at the Itabashi Volunteer Center with cotton in cooperation with 35 Itabashi residents, who then brought back cotton seeds for other farms and their own home verandas.

We had so much rain after the middle of August this year that we were concerned about whether the flowers would grow into cotton balls due to the lack of sunshine, but we harvested much cotton from the plants cultivated by the Itabashi residents and successfully sent our cotton back home to Hirono (in the autumn of 2015).

From now on, we will work to increase the size of our farm areas and crop yields by using parks in Itabashi, provide environmental education to elementary and junior high school kids through the cultivation of cotton, and continue exchanges with residents in the Hamadori region of Fukushima Prefecture.

Reiko Yokoyama,
Director of Ita-Eco-Net NPO