Why do you support Mirai no Mori? vol.8 with Kazuya Miki
Series #8 with Kazuya Miki, from Mori-to-Odoru
As Mirai no Mori celebrates its 10th anniversary, we have been interviewing our supporters from various fields to share their “voices” with you. As valued partners who have walked together with us, they share their encounters with Mirai no Mori and the reasons for their continued support in these interviews.
This interview features Kazuya Miki, president of Dance with the Forest, a company that aims for the coexistence of forests and people.
Nicknamed “Zu-yan,” Miki-san has been working as a partner of the Kikori Program since 2017, providing us with opportunities to work with children to create forests over the years. In this interview, Zu-yan talks about the positive impact of the Kikori program on the children, his own experiences and memories of the Mirai no Mori forest, and his passion for this program.
Why did you become a kikori (woodcutter)?
I don’t really know, but until about 10 years ago I was working for a company, and for some reason I suddenly decided to become a kikori (a woodcutter). I didn’t get a job at any forestry company, nor did I want to work somewhere else. I don’t really like to be called a forester because I think the main thing foresters do is produce lumber and make good trees. However, I have a strong interest in the forests that will be left behind, and I want to improve the forests themselves.
I am often asked how I became a woodcutter. But it was in fact quite sudden that I quit my job and became a woodcutter. So, I did not become a kikori because I wanted to protect the forest, but I became interested in nature after becoming a kikori. The name of my company, Dance with the Forest, was inspired by the fact that nature has always provided us with products, and I wanted to do something for nature in return.
You have been a long-term partner of Mirai no Mori’s Kikori program. What do you think children are learning from the Kikori program?
In Mirai no Mori’s Kikori program, I hope that children can learn that people and forests can coexist through contact with nature.
In addition to the Kikori program, Mirai no Mori has many activities in nature. The purpose is not to gain knowledge about forests or forestry, so I am not concerned about how much of the facts the children will remember. Instead, I hope we can all enjoy learning and practicing what makes the forest happy.
I work with Mirai no Mori for two seasons a year, in spring and fall, and I am happy to be able to provide children with a place to share nature and make them happy.
Do you have any memories or memorable moments from the program?
Many different groups come to our forest and share activities with us, but my impression of Mirai no Mori is that the children and staff are energetic. And it is wonderful that the adults are involved from the same perspective as the children. Children participating in the Kikori program want to participate, but not all of them are interested in the forest. In this context, I thought the Mirai no Mori program does a good job of capturing the children’s interest.
Also, interacting with the children is more than fun; it is refreshing. For example, when children who experienced skinning and thinning several years ago come back to the forest years later, they sometimes remember that among the many trees in the forest, “This is the tree I skinned and thinned!” This is a great example of the amazing power of memory that children have.
What is the reason for your continuous involvement with Mirai no Mori and the creation of the Kikori program with us, rather than being a one-time partner?
The reason is because I want to provide the children of Mirai no Mori with opportunities to interact with the forest.
I usually work in the forestry field, but during my off-site time, I want people of all ages to learn about the current state of Japan’s forests. In our daily lives, we do not often think about how trees are used to make products or what happened to the forests where the trees grew. For example, we care about where our food comes from, but I think most of us are not interested in where the trees in our homes come from or how the forest is being impacted by the trees used in our homes. We want people to know that forests have their own challenges, so we provide opportunities for many people, from adults to children, to interact with the forest.
In addition, I believe that some of the children in the care homes that Mirai no Mori supports are not attending school. Society categorizes them as “children in foster care” or “children who have stopped going to school,” but they are still human beings, and I would like to continue to provide them with opportunities to experience new challenges by interacting with the forest. At the same time, I continue to work with them because it is simply fun to do the Mirai no Mori Kikori program and it is a meaningful way to use my time.
At Mirai no Mori, we believe that there is great significance in children’s continued participation in our programs. In order to continue to provide a safe place for children to learn and grow, we need your continued support.
We invite you to join the Mirai no Mori community as a monthly supporter so that together we can continue to provide children with opportunities to gain life skills.
We look forward to you joining us as a monthly supporter so that we can continue to help as many children as possible to grow happily, fruitfully, and independently.