Holidays, weekends
and after school for children

How do children spend their after school, weekend
and holiday time in this town?
Do children spend their spare time with the adults in Kamiyama?

Episode 7

Postscript: Reflection on the interviews

November 30, 2021 release

Over the 6 series of interviews, we spoke to different people to find out about activities and after school time for children of Kamiyama. For the last interview, we met some more parents with children from different age groups to ask about their thoughts on this series of interviews.

Different activities but we all want the same for our children

Please introduce yourself and tell us what brought you to Kamiyama.

Daisuke Sasagawa I’m from Tokyo. I was a baker over there and I moved to Kamiyama with my family in February 2017 after I read about the Foodhub project. I now work for Kama Pan, baking bread every day. 

Eri Itoi I’m from Tochigi. After graduating high school, I moved to the UK. I’ve lived in Kamiyama since 2010. I was always interested in the Kamiyama Artist in Residence program. I first started helping them as a volunteer and then I became an official staff member in 2017.

Takako Hashimoto I was born in Miyoshi, Tokushima. I used to live and work in Ikeda with my family before moving to Kamiyama. We came to Orono where my husband is from in 2010 when our daughter was in the 2nd grade of elementary school and our son was a year-and-a-half-old.

What did you think of these six interviews?

Eri Because I’m in charge of translation for this feature, I read every interview thoroughly and meticulously. Each activity is focused on a particular subject but I noticed that there was always something in common- every adult wants the same for all children. They share the same idea: that they want children to experience and enjoy Kamiyama's environment, to learn a flexible way of thinking and for them to be self-reliant. I’m sure it’s good for children to have many ways to grow.

But I heard that there are only sports clubs kids can join in the middle school. For my son, because he loves doing sports, it won’t be too difficult for him to choose. But thinking back, I myself wasn’t into sports as a child and I suppose there are always kids who are into other activities. It would be nice if there were some music, art, math, or science related activities for these kids to have fun and deepen their knowledge in their fields of interest.

For instance, I’m a part of Tokushima’s traditional Awa Ningyo Joruri puppet group. If there was an opportunity for middle school and high school kids to join a youth puppet group as an after school activity in Kamiyama, it would be amazing. They could practice every day if they want and they would be wonderful performers. Even if you are not comfortable standing in front of an audience, once you put on the Kurogo black hood and costume you’ll become invisible and anything you want to be!

Takako I was surprised that I actually didn’t know most of the activities that were happening within Kamiyama. I learned about the trail running, family dance lesson and Hon no Hiroba through these interviews. I love children’s books so I was concerned about having no proper library in Kamiyama. I’m truly impressed by the fact that there are people who want to improve the reading environment and take actions to realize it. I felt that I should keep myself more open to what’s happening around town.

I also asked my parents in law who are in their 70s’ and were born in Kamiyama to read all the interviews in this series before today. I was curious what their generation thinks about what’s happening in town.

Particularly they picked up on the article with Kamiyama Rookies Youth Baseball Club and Jinryo Junior Volleyball Club. As a grandparent, they felt happy that their grandson is in the good hands playing baseball. We all felt so lucky and safe to have such amazing coaches to care for our son. I love the idea of nurturing all children within the local community. Every one of the activities will raise them as “our children”. This will help kids to care more about their hometown. One day they might start their life somewhere else outside Kamiyama but all these experience with their local community will be a foundation for their lives and remind them that Kamiyama is a place to come back to.

Daisuke I particularly enjoyed reading the interview about Gakudo, the after-school care program. Especially when Yui Kawano of Sudachi Kids Club talked about dynamics formed within the club and that children can self-reflect in order to solve problems.

I think it’s amazing. Any activity has social aspects and adults should never interfere too much. It’s important that we step back and watch over them.

I believe that as long as kids have fun, that is what it should be all about. Any excess intervention by adults would ruin the whole balance.

Children inspire us

All your children are part of the activities featured in the interviews. Has anything changed so far or do you have any thoughts?

Takako Since my son started playing baseball, his grandparents have never missed one his matches.

Daisuke I remember his grandfather was thrilled to watch his grandson and his teammates play saying, “Oh, I just witnessed some beautiful moments.”

Takako Yeah. Children definitely inspire us. They cheer us up regardless of the generation, which includes parents, grandparents and everyone around them. Of course, I cry at every match. Whether they win or lose, it doesn’t matter. I suppose the older you get, the more emotional you become (laughs).

Daisuke I know exactly how you feel. I was in tears many times. It’s not just about my own children but the whole team. I get quite emotional watching each one of them and I just weep with sympathy.

Takako We watch every one of the kids practice so hard before matches. Each time they show us how far they have come and it’s truly inspiring. I feel so lucky to be able to witness such moments.

Daisuke I always wanted my children to learn something after school. I tried to introduce different possibilities but they never clicked.

But when they were in the 1st grade of elementary school, they decided to join the baseball club. Apparently, this older girl who they look up to said to my daughters “Our baseball team could be disbanded if there aren’t enough members. Would you do us a favor and join us and play baseball together?” So, they told me they wanted to join. I thought to myself “That’s a good enough reason to start? Are you kidding? What a trigger!”. But it wasn’t really about baseball; it was more important for them to be with this girl and keep their promise to her. That was their own reason. They must have felt a sense of responsibility or like it was their mission. Later I thanked this girl’s mum for giving my children a great opportunity.

Eri For my son, I think he wanted to join the volleyball club because he saw his mates were having a good time. Up until then he was only taking part in individual sports like swimming and Jiu-jitsu so I guess he was interested in a team sport. I felt the same.

It’s been only few days since he started but I’m already impressed with how the team members commit themselves to each practice. The youngest one is 7 and the second youngest is 9, the same age as my son, and they can stay focused for two-and-a -half-hours of training. I was so surprised.

Build a causal relationship between parents

What do you think is the ideal opportunity for children?

Eri Through Kamiyama Artist in Residence program, many international artists visit this place every year. Some of them come and stay here with their kids as a family and most of them come back again every year or two. We always invite each other to do things so our children can play together. It’s been wonderful to welcome them back here and we always look forward to the next time. It is so easy to connect with people online but even for a short time actually having your friends over right here to play together is special and something you can’t replace with anything else. My son is very lucky.

I would really like artist’s children to experience after-school activities with local kids. In the past, one artist’s son was accepted as a transfer student in Jinryo elementary school during his father’s residency period. This was only possible because of the support and understanding from the school and the people around us. It would be great to have more opportunities for local and visiting kids to spend time together like this.

Daisuke I believe it’s also very important that we become close as family friends. To be honest, I meet many people in the town but I barely know any of them.

So, I think we adults should get involved in our kids' activities or just drop by to get to know each other more.  This would make things even better. Kids may not play together much but if there is a relationship between parents, I think it would give kids a sense of security and assurance. Building a causal relationship between parents is ideal.

Takako I always tell my son that he should never forget to express gratitude. When he plays baseball and goes to baseball practice, his coaches and teammate's parents take their time to teach him. Like our help with transportation and the support from his grandparents, he is very lucky to have people to give him what he needs. I want him to remember that he can play baseball comfortably because of his friends and teammates, that is a very important foundation that enables him to do anything.

And I also think it’s important to respect the people who have made Kamiyama what it is today before starting anything new. We should be aware that we are standing on the ground people built before us. With that in mind, you can challenge new things and people will always support you. It would be wonderful to connect with people from other generations and share our mutual respect for one another while working together.

Interview: October 5, 2021

“There are no places for kids to play.”
“We have no choice for after school activities.”
“Kids live so far away from each other; they can’t spend time together after school or on holidays.”

We consider these issues about Kamiyama's after school environment to be solved. While working on this report and conducting the interviews, although there were a limited numbers of choices, we met people who are rich in mind and have a passion towards helping children lead a better life while they engage in each project.  

“What” you choose to learn is important but if you focus on “who” you spend time with, there are multiple opportunities and places to be within the town.

Especially for the newer activities, the fact that it is easy for anyone to drop in helps build relationships between kids or their parents. I feel that having this kind of casual connection among parents is the key to increase more choices and opportunities for children.
It is essential for parents themselves to look out for information and find out what’s happening around town. We will continue to highlight any small developments to share with parents and families.

This report will continue on the “In Kamiyama” website where we will keep sharing the different activities in a dairy format.

Interviewer: Chigusa Akiyama,
Text: Itsumodoori
Photography: Nao Kondo, Masataka Namazu, Masahiko Kanemura
Production cooperation: Eri Itoi, Yoshiaki Nishimura
Planning and production: Kamiyama Tsunagu Corporation