Nagakute Picnic is the event hosted by musicians, artists, designers, chefs, farmers, students and activists in town revitalization and nature experience in Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture in Japan, to create opportunities for the local residents to interact with one another through farming, foods, music, arts and nature experiences.
Nagakute City is a municipality with around 70,000 population. It has rich nature and prosperous agriculture industry, but with the recent development, it is losing the community it has nurtured. Also, we have noted that the considerable size of natural environment in Japan was destroyed by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident in Fukushima in 2011, leaving the lands/farmlands radioactively contaminated and a large number of people still in the shelter. In such a circumstance, we rediscovered the importance of the natural environment, agriculture, and the community, thus want to activate the communication among local residents and create the opportunities to deepen the understanding of the natural environment and agriculture – that was how we started this event.
Nagakute Picnic is the participatory event to invite a wide range of participants from small children to grown-ups to take part in various activities: harvesting vegetables and flowers to cook or decorate the venue, participating in dance and music workshops, and listening to the outdoor live music performance. By participating from the preparation stage, they can have the sense of ownership, and having participants prepare and clean up generates active communication among them. Moreover, that helps to reduce the operational budget of the event.
Arts, Music and Design Developed by the Participation
In the traditional society, everybody participated in festivals by dancing, singing or preparing special foods. But in the modern society, arts, music and design have become so specialized, advanced and commercialized that they no longer allow spontaneous participation. We hope to bring cooking, arts, music and design closer to everybody’s heart by having people, from kids to grown-ups and senior citizens and regardless of gender, take part in workshops of those activities in whatever way they want.
In the Pursuit of the Origins of Music, Dance, Arts and Design
There are distinctively different seasons here in Japan, and we have celebrated festivals at the turn of seasons such as vernal and autumnal equinoxes from ancient time. And festivals mean music, dance and special foods. When the spring comes, the spring flowers bloom and plants sprout in mountains indicating the arrival of spring and making us cheerful. We feel like making cakes with spring plants in mountains, decorate our houses with spring flowers, and playing music and dancing. When the autumn comes and we harvest vegetables and grains, we appreciate the harvest and feel very happy. Naturally we want to enjoy the fresh vegetables and grains to celebrate the nature’s blessing with our friends and families. We believe that was how festivals started and entertainment like music and dance, arts and design like installation and costumes were born. Nagakute Picnic pursues how music, arts and design can stem from the nature and our seasons like in the old days.
Revitalization of the Unique Local Culture
In these days, the unique local culture has been lost due to the skew toward globalization, and the culture in all regions are standardized. Regional identity and the pride in the local culture are diminishing, and the unifying force that the local culture once had is no longer seen. This has lead arts, music, and design to losing contact with the agriculture, community and nature. At Nagakute Picnic, local musicians play their original songs, local residents create pieces of art with the neighborhood plants, and chefs with connection with this region cook local vegetables, wild plants and grains in season. We aim at creating a brand new culture that is unique to this part of Japan.
Arts and Music as Non-verbal Communication Format
Different people in our society have different opinions and values, and sometimes it is very difficult to communicate with one another because of such diversity. But we can open up and feel empathy when we appreciate joyful music and arts, beautiful plants and nature as well as good foods. Then we can overcome the difference in opinions and values. We strongly believe that non-verbal and instinctive communication like music, arts and foods should attract more attention as a means for people in the society and the community to meet and interact.
Space for Composite Art You Can Feel with Five Senses
Nagakute Picnic can also be described as the space for composite art that you can feel with all five senses – audio arts like music, visual arts like paintings/sculptures and installation, arts of taste like cooking, arts of olfaction like the smell of foods and seasons, and arts of haptic like feeling the seasonal wind out in the field and work with our own hands and bodies. And you can feel the sense of connection with many things – with the nature through the outdoor activities, with the earth through the taste of local foods, and with the community through working/participating in workshops together. Nagakute Picnic would like to offer the place for such holistic and multi-sensorial experience.
Conclusion: For the Lives Deeply Rooted in the Community
The power shortage and the power saving movement following the nuclear accident told us once again the vulnerability of the energy infrastructure of this society as well as the danger of dependence on a small number of huge energy generators. We now feel that we have to move away from the lives based on the gigantic and centralized system such as nuclear plants and globalization to the lives rooted in the community and based on the cyclical economy within the region. With the wide usage of internet and smartphones, people in the community are getting connected in a new way via web sites and SNS now. And as the small scale and geographically dispersed system such as renewable energy generation develops, we have a better chance of leading lives which are rooted in the community. Given the change, we would like to look at arts, music, foods and design as the integral parts of the community-based lives.
Haruo Ishii（representative、director、Aichi University of the Arts Environmental Media Research Group）
Mikihito Fujimori（Taiwa keikaku、Town planning, urban planning, regional development, landscape design）
Tomohisa Hashimoto（composer, artist、Atelier Rano）
Tsutomu Aoyagi（musician、Hifumiyoi Farm）
Kayo Kobayashi（musician、Hifumiyoi Farm）