Sustainable Learning Centre to Welcome Children from Around the World
MORIUMIUS-LUSAIL, once an abandoned Japanese school that has now been transformed into a modern sustainable learning centre for children and adults in the Tohoku region, held its official Opening Ceremony on Saturday 11th July. Supported by a $4.2 million grant from the Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF), the centre hopes to attract visitors not only from Japan but also from around the world.
Nearly 45,000 people are expected to benefit from this innovative centre, and visitors will be given the unique opportunity to be exposed to, interact with and learn the culture of the local people of Ogatsu. Surrounded by the area’s beautiful nature and stunning views, children and adults alike will enhance their skills in team-building, leadership and sustainability.
Approximately 60 people attended the Opening Ceremony, including Ishinomaki Mayor Mr. Hiroshi Kameyama, QFF representatives, government officials and local residents. Administration Officer of sweet treat 311 Mr. Gentaro Yui was awarded with a celebratory key from Mr. Abdulla Al-Zeyara, Counsellor at the Embassy of the State of Qatar. In return, Mr. Al-Zeyara was presented with a plate made from the renowned local Ogatsu slate.
Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, Executive Director of sweet treat 311 Mr. Tachibana explained: “Following the disaster, more than 5000 people have visited Ogatsu – from various areas in Japan of course but also from around the world. People who almost think of Ogatsu as their hometown. Ogatsu is surrounded by the ocean and a forest, and I truly believe that nurturing sustainability among children is the future of our town – and the future of Japan”.
Representing Qatar, Mr. Al-Zeyara also reflected on the global dimension of this project: “This facility will welcome people not only from Japan, but around the world. Visitors will immerse themselves in nature, while learning from and interacting with the local residents. Inspired by the Qatar National Vision 2030, the redevelopment of Lusail mirrors that of this abandoned school in Ogatsu. Placing education and the development of human capital at the center of society’s aspirations, both projects aim to build a bright and sustainable future for our children”.
(From right to left) Ishinomaki City Mayor Mr. Kameyama, Mr. Al-Zeyara, Mr. Tachibana and Mr. Yui.
QFF places great importance on child education, and this facility will provide children with unique opportunities currently not available in their home environments. From planting rice to catching fish, participating children will even be expected to collect wood together as a team in order to heat their evening sento (bath). In addition to educational and vocational offerings in fields such as fisheries, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, cooking or IT, corporate retreats will also be offered.
The eleventh project executed by QFF to date, the MORIUMIUS-LUSAIL centre is a symbol of the long and prosperous friendship between Japan and Qatar. The name MORIUMIUS (the Japanese for forest, sea and the English ‘us’) was chosen by the local residents of Ogatsu, while Lusail is the name of a historically significant city in Qatar. The facility will be managed by sweet treat 311, a Japanese public interest corporation initially set up to provide sweets and food to the most affected areas in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The organisation’s ethos is to bring smiles to the local children.
The Kuwahama elementary school in Ishinomaki Ogatsu was originally built in 1923, but closed in 2001. The restoration of this important Japanese landmark is symbolic of the ongoing regeneration and redevelopment in Lusail, Qatar. Many of the original features of the school have been kept, including the wooden beams and the teacher’s room, while slate from the roof has been used as tiles in the visitors’ bathing areas. The centre will focus on the ‘stay, eat, experience’ concept. In line with this theme, the classrooms and staff room have been turned into eating, sleeping, and learning spaces.
Initially, the centre will welcome people from around Japan with an eye to gradually attract a global audience. Through such outreach, local children as well as the wider community will benefit greatly from communicating and interacting with international visitors. In addition to the unique experiences that visitors will enjoy, it is hoped that the creation of additional employment thanks to this centre will in turn aid rejuvenation and restoration of the local area. Programs will source materials from local businesses, with five full-time jobs and a further twenty part-time opportunities available immediately.
sweet treat 311 http://sweettreat311.org
MORIUMIUS LUSAIL http://www.moriumius.jp
Qatar Friendship Fund http://www.qatarfriendshipfund.org