Visit from Japan Society and Japan NPO Center
ACEnet recently received a visit from theJapan Society and the Japan NPO Center. The visitors,
many of whom traveled a great distance to Southeast Ohio, got a glimpse of ACEnet and our
community during their short stay in the area. One visitor, an alumnus of Ohio University, was
especially excited to be back in Athens.
Before getting an overview of what ACEnet is, the members of both organizations explained what
other organizations or areas of work they were a part of and what they wanted to learn from ACEnet.
One individual who attended is the director of Taberu Journal, a magazine that has expanded across
Japan and focuses on connecting consumers to producers. Many of the articles feature farmers and
the passion and process behind what they are growing. A brief description of the journal says its
purpose is not only to expand the connection to one’s food “but to understand it intellectually and
emotionally.” The journal goes beyond just print pages to actual experiences such as meeting the
producers in person or receiving featured foods in the journal for the reader to cook him or herself.
Another visitor voiced his concern over young individuals moving out of rural areas and into urban
areas in search of building upon their careers. He wishes to explore what motivates young people to
stay in a community and especially what inspires younger people to become interested in agriculture.
The Next Commons Lab, which is based in Tokyo, Japan, also had a representative on the tour of
ACEnet. The mission behind this association is to create self-sustaining communities and then
connect these communities across the country. They hope to create communities where people are
able to choose to live intentionally while each individual also contributes toward the greater good of
The Japan NPO Center encompasses many of the same values and efforts of many organizations,
including ACEnet, in our community such as building upon local resources, creating jobs, educating,
creating ways to become self-sustaining and preserving culture and heritage.
Through these few examples of organizations involved in either Japan Society or Japan NPO Center,
it is clear that we have very similar barriers and are working toward the same goals for our own
communities. They hoped to explore the possibility of replicating some of ACEnet’s initiatives such as
small business incubation and learn about our involvement in local, sustainable agriculture. It just
goes to show how interconnected our world is and how much we can learn through each other
whether we come from Japan, rural Appalachia or anywhere else.
After leaving Athens and Nelsonville, the two organizations were off to visit many of our other partners
across the region before returning home.