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What is the Tono Natural Life Network?

What is the Tono Natural Life Network?

■Aims ~A central role in grassroots NPO activities~

The Tono Natural Life Network aims to contribute to the improvement of society’s overall benefit by conducting specific work with Tono in three main fields: “Further interactions with residents making use of resources and promotion of people moving in”; “Passing down, developing and applying traditional culture, entertainment, technology and arts”; and, “Revitalization and practice of cyclical lifestyles in rural and mountain areas.”

■History of the Organization

The Tono Natural Life Network, located in Tono, Iwate (population 28,750, elderly comprising 36.7%, as of Nov. 2015), has been conducting activities since 2003 in order to revitalize the area through “Green Tourism.”

One characteristic of this NPO is its cluster format.*1 Based on the ideals of “Exchange, empathy and cooperation” of various groups supporting Green Tourism in Tono that have sprung up on their own, in addition to helping each of them develop further, we are trying to bring about what any single group could do on its own.

Green tourism*2 is a new style of travel in which people from the city visit rural districts and can enjoy a more leisurely lifestyle while interactive with local people.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, we have continued to give backup support from Tono, from which the greatly damaged coast can be reached in about an hour.

 NPO法人遠野山・里・暮らしネットワーク 会長 菊池新一

Tono Natural Life Network

 President KIKUCHI Shinichi Born in Ton in 1949. Previous work includes: Director of Regional Reform, Director of Industry Promotion Division, Director of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Division of Tono, Iwate, and Executive Director of Tono Furusato Corporation.
Tono is a beautiful village that has existed since the ancient Jomon era. Frogs sing, dragonflies flutter about, and fireflies shine. You can find thatched roof houses, horses, and men and women of all ages. There are many farms, hills and dales, ponds and estates. You will find a relaxing lifestyle in this “small universe.” We are happy to inherit this legacy and transform it to the modern age, and hope to pass this beautiful mountain village to later generations. We hope to meet with people from urban areas, share these ideas and work together. This is just the beginning of our activities.


 2003  Tono Natural Life Network registration completed (June 16)
       Tono-style Farm Village Working Holiday
 2004  Started program of combining studying for driving licenses and green tourism (July)
       Opened Tono Branch of the Tohoku Tourism College (summer)
 2005  Three campuses of the Tohoku Tourism College opened in Kitakata,
       Aizu-Bange, and Higashi-Matsushima
 2006  Started Farm Village Home-stays in Tono
 2008  Opened Tainai campus of the Tohoku Tourism College
 2011  Gave support for recovery
        (handiworks support, delivery of goods, protection services, relief projects) 
 2016  Became registered NPO    

○Types of “Specified Nonprofit Activities”
 based on the Act on Promotion of Specified Non-profit Activities

 1. Activities to promote health, medical care and welfare
 2. Activities to promote town development
 3. Activities to promote tourism
 4. Activities to promote rural areas and mountainous areas
 5. Activities to promote culture, the arts and sports
 6. Activities to conserve the environment
 7. Disaster relief activities
 8. Activities to stimulate the economy
 9. Activities that include contacting, advising and supporting the operation
   and activities of groups engaged in activities listed above

○Projects related to specified nonprofit activities
 1. Providing information related to tourism, the arts and lifestyle over the Internet
 2. Cooperating with field work and giving support for internships through the college and such
 3. Promoting working holidays and management and operation of issuing community currency
   related to such
 4. Developing and supporting hosts, as well as coordinating with guests
 5. Providing information and support to people who wish to move to,
   become residents of, and farm in Tono
 6. Regional exchanges that utilize regional resources, such as horse riding
 7. Surveying buildings with thatched roofs and the resources related to such,
   as well as restoration of thatched roofs
 8. Consulting, providing information and management consigned by members
   and sponsoring organizations
 9. Activities to support disaster relief in the region, neighboring municipalities, and friendship cities
 10. Cooperating, coordinating and supporting projects related to the promotion of tourism,
  the arts, and maintaining one’s lifestyle
 11. Other projects deemed necessary to achieve the purpose of this corporation

○Other Projects
 1. Hosting the Tohoku Tourism University to urban residents and such
 2. Consulting consigned by people and groups other than members and sponsoring organizations
 3. Preparing regional designs and giving lectures
 4. Community business utilizing regional resources
 5. Travel industry *Domestic travel, type 3, Iwate Governor Registration No. 3-208
 6. Revenues generated from other projects must be used for projects related to specified
  nonprofit activities conducted by the Tono Natural Life Network.

*1 “Cluster format”
This originally referred to a bunch of grapes. It means a group of people that have the same purposes. With the Tono Natural Life Network, the Board of Directors and the President are analogous to the bunch of grapes, and support the fruits of various grapes. The group forming the cluster will continue to change, depending on the growth of the group, with some leaving and new people coming in. The Tono Natural Life Network cooperates with these groups and will fulfil its purpose of collaborating with these groups by implementing various projects and solving regional problems of the time.

*2 “Green Tourism”
Originally, this pattern of travel was found in Europe that has a culture of enjoying long vacations, but it has become more prevalent in Japan as well in recent years, with people who seek fulfilment of the heart. Green travel has been defined as “travel based leisure activities for enjoying the nature, culture and people is lush, green rural areas with the basic goal of balancing development of the land with supplements from and symbiosis between urban and rural areas (A relaxing journey to enjoy rural areas).” (Interim Report of Meeting of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Green Tourism Studies, 1992, Item 9)
As defined in this way, meeting with local residents, experiencing its culture, nature, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, residents experience a different time and space from everyday life, and become activated… That is green tourism.

Green: This refers not only to the color or to “nature,” but includes environmental conservation and securing the sustainability of society and culture “respecting all life on earth, the proper use of resources, and recognizing the interrelations of all life.”

Tourism: This refers not only to sightseeing and tours, but includes activities to refresh the body and soul through various unique experiences and meetings, aimed to promote a new integrated rural industry by establishing such a lifestyle.

Tono Natural Life Network

Industry Promotion Hall
6-16 Higashi-date Tono, Iwate 028-0515