Villagers seek to use Okinawa rails to revitalize community

April 25, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 19, the Ada district of Kunigami in northern Okinawa and the NPO Yambaru Regional Revitalization Support Center reported to Kunigami Mayor Hisakazu Miyagi on their plan to link their community with the presence of the Yambaru kuina. In October 2012 Ada formally proclaimed itself as a habitat of this endangered species of bird.

According to the report the community has adopted five approaches that they hope to carry using lump-sum grants available from the municipal office. These are: 1) regional revitalization by co-existing with Yambaru kuina, 2) promoting industry through effective utilization of regional resources, 3) creating experience-based education opportunities and becoming a tourist hub in the eastern area of the community, 4) getting people to come for new attractions and 5) regional revitalization by encouraging young people to settle and promoting person-to-person exchanges.

Specifically, they suggested trying to attract larger numbers of tourists by using the Yambaru kuina as a symbol of the community, carrying out projects such as building structures in the community and along the roads to highlight the presence of the birds and trying to sell local products such as sugar cane and coffee beans under a brand name linked to the area being a habitat of the kuina. This plan also seeks to take of advantage of the natural environment, including doing work on old trekking routes, a local education center for the children who come from outside Okinawa, and upgrading a charcoal kiln in order to make charcoal out of a variety of ironwood introduced to the prefecture.

Ward Chief Yasuharu Kamiyama said, “By making use of our natural resources and the presence of the Yambaru kuina, which is the symbol of Ada, we want to try to develop the community in order to create jobs for young people.”

(English translation by T&CT, Hitomi Shinzato and Mark Ealey)

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