A Real Estate Company Connects Urban Residents and Satoyama ~Kayabuki no Sato Project~



In terrace paddy fields spreading at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture, Incorporated Non-profit Organization Tsukuba Kankyou (Environment) Forum has been taking the lead in conducting “rice growing coexisting with living creatures” with citizen’s participation at a part of fields unsuitable for cultivation by machine. A major real-estate company Nomura Real Estate Development Co., Ltd. has been cooperating with this activity through Tsukuba Green Tourism Suisinkyougikai (Promotion Council). The company called on residents of condominiums and tenant companies, and launched “Kayabuki no Sato (thatched house village) Project.” The project aims at establishing a sustainable cooperative relationship between cities and farming villages. This project have been continuously conducted.

Most of condominium residents in cities are families with small children. They don’t have many opportunities to touch soil and have a great demand to have contact with nature. And tenant companies in office buildings are also utilizing this project as part of employee satisfaction and CSR activities. In cities, there is a need to have contact with nature and participate in activities that benefit society. On the other hand, most of rural areas have issues of depopulation and aging, and various approaches are taken throughout the country.

In this case, many people from urban areas make regular visits to farming villages. This activates farming villages, meets the needs of urban residents to have contact with nature. And it also increases the value of companies through building relationships between companies and customers, and CSR activities. It matches the needs of both sides and helps the environmental preservation of farming villages.


Around the foot of Mt. Tsukuba, to resolve the issues of depopulation and aging, “Tsukuba Green Tourism Suisinkyougikai” was established in 2009. The council aims for communication between local people and urban residents. In the early days of the council, they were conducting activities gropingly. It was just at that time that Kazuhiro Kariuchi asked Dr. Kunihiro Ando, “What can I do?” Mr. Kariuchi got a job at Nomura Real Estate Development after learning regional development and etc. at Tsukuba University. Dr. Kunihiro Ando is a professor emeritus of Tsukuba University and he was Mr. Kariuchi’s instructor.

Accepting the call of Dr. Ando, Tsukuba Green Tourism Suisinkyougigai teamed up with Nomura Real Estate Development. Events started since May, 2012. In these events, the residents of the condominiums sold by Nomura Real Estate Development visit the foot of Mt. Tsukuba and experience activities of Satoyama (farming landscape near the hills and mountains in Japan) such as rice planting.

It is difficult for these kind of activities to obtain consensus within the company. Still, Mr. Kariuchi got approval from the boss, with the title of “CSR Tour” to increase the number of people who understand the action. He guided about 80 employees of Nomura Real Estate Development on 3 occasions in total to the foot of Mt. Tsukuba and worked hard for the region. These steady efforts bore fruit, understanding in the company deepened, and now it is one of the main contents of CSR activities of Nomura Real Estate Development.

Operational Methods

Operational Meathod

Nomura Real Estate Development is at the heart of the network of cities. The company approaches residents of condominiums sold by the company and tenant companies in office buildings to participate in “Kayabuki no Sato Project.”

Tsukuba Green Tourism Suisinkyougikai is at the heart of Tsukuba. It is made up of local residents such as people involved in community associations, farmers and business operators, Satoyama Archi Labo Inc., NPO Tsukuba Environment Forum and NPO Jinenjo Club (engage in organic farming with people with mental handicaps). Tsukuba City as government and Tsukuba University as a local university support the project from outside.

To implement communication between cities and farming villages, both cities and farming villages respectively need organizations to coordinate their activities. In terms of funds, Nomura Real Estate Development sponsors Suisinkyougikai and supports the activity. Regarding urban participants, there are no participant fees since Nomura Real Estate Development positions the project as a part of its business. CSR department manages this project, condominium CS (Customer Satisfaction) department and office building department share cost of in-company cost.

Reason: Why a real estate company implements communication between cities and farming villages? : Children who don’t have experiences in rural areas are increasing.

Generally, most of the generations who buy condominiums are families in their 30s and 40s with small children. They are “dankai junior (children of baby boomers)” generation and the generation a little younger than “dankai junior.” They now live in urban areas. Their parents are “dankai” generation who moved to urban areas during the period of rapid economic growth. Dankai junior themselves have experiences to visit their parents’ places and interact with abundant nature even they have never lived in farming villages.

Children living in urban cities these days, however, have poor experiences in farming villages compared to their parents’ generation and they don’t have so-called “inaka (country)” (refer to the picture on the left = click to enlarge). It seems that those social conditions of present day might have influenced; there are a lot of TV programs under the theme of “inaka” and they are popular. Concerning environmental education, various experiences in nature appropriate to the developmental stage of children are needed. It is thought that children of one generation earlier were in social conditions easier to have experiences in nature. Nowadays, however, it is difficult to provide enough experiences in nature to children without making opportunities intentionally.

As such time background, “second generation urban migrants = dankai junior,” most of the condominium buyers, have great needs to let their children have experiences to interact with nature. Though, on the other hand, the dilemma is that they cannot provide what they have experienced in their childhood to their children. For third generation urban migrants, it is rather “making a new home” than “making a second home,” since they don’t have home country anyway.

As for Nomura Real Estate Development, as a part of product development, it can position itself apart from competing companies by providing unprecedented added value. On the other hand, it is difficult for a long-term approach such as community planning to guarantee permanency by the existing concept of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). It requires a concept of CSV (Creating Shared Value) to create shared value together with Tsukuba residents as a for-profit company. It is estimated that these approaches and efforts have social values. Therefore, this project won awards in 3 categories, starting with the category of CSR activities, at the same time in the Good Design Award 2013. And it was also selected as one of the Good Design Best 100.

Implementation status

Implementation Status

In September 2014, about 120 urban residents in total came to the foot of Mt. Tsukuba from Tokyo metropolitan area on three buses. Most of them were families with children in the lower grades of elementary schools and the atmosphere was very lively. After arriving at the venue, they changed clothes and gathered. Then, explanations of the work for the day were offered. Condominium residents participated in the event in response to a call by Nomura Real Estate Development. Recently, with the spread of this program, applicants reach the fixed number right after the start of recruitment of participants. Therefore, they limit participants by lot nowadays. Satoyama experiencing event is held twice a year; rice planting in early summer and harvesting in autumn. Participants hold sickles and harvest rice with their own hands. Many of them experience harvesting for the first time. Some of the participants are from abroad.

As for the operation of the day, Tsukuba Green Tourism Suisinkyougikai takes the lead. Nomura Real Estate Development guides participants from urban areas to the foot of Mt. Tsukuba. In addition to Tsukuba Environment Forum who plans and manages the experience activities in rice paddy fields, local farmers come and help the participants. And in the name of “Satoyama March,” local people sell products centering on locally-produced ingredients such as breads, festive red rice and shaved ice. As for the community, community business is promoted. Participants from urban areas have opportunities to eat valuable local ingredients.

Since the size of “Nomura Real Estate Development Eco Rice Paddy Field” is 27 ares, it is impossible to complete all the works in a day. Local farmers and NPO staff do the rest of the works. Harvested new rice is delivered to each households participated in the event and to the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The aim of the project is to succeed "Satoyama culture" and to "redesign Japan who is becoming a shrinking society"

Aging and lack of successors in farming villages is a common regional issue all over Japan. Every region has an issue of this theme. We heard from Kazuhiro Kariuchi of Nomura Real Estate Development, one of the trendsetters of Kayabuki no Sato Project, how a company got involved in this project as a player to resolve this issue.

The source of the idea of Kayabuki no Sato is that Mr. Kariuchi chose “establishing a framework of communication between urban cities and farming villages” as the theme of his graduation work when he was a student of Tsukuba University. This research was appreciated and he was awarded the top prize at the university. Though, it was only a desk theory. After graduation, he got a job at Nomura Real Estate Development and engaged in work such as planning condominium. Then he transferred to product development department and it was about 7 years after he started working at the company. On this occasion, he set out an approach in Tsukuba to put the theme he used to research into practice. It was difficult for a big company to take an unprecedented approach and it took some time to obtain consent in the company. Conducting steady public relations to increase supporters and winning the Good Design Award lead to enlargement of the circle of support in the company.


What was important for Mr. Kariuchi to start a relationship with the foot of Mt. Tsukuba was the existence of Tsukuba Green Tourism Suisinkyougikai which bring people together in the region. The people carrying the function of secretariat are not only local people living in their ancestral lands but also “strangers” moved from other regions. Usually, it is difficult for strangers and local people living in their ancestral lands lasted for hundreds of years to fuse together. The information magazine “ Susomiroku ” was one of the catalyst to eliminate barriers among them. “Susomi” is the nickname of Tai district (the former Tai Village). In the district, by that time, attempts to rediscover the charm of the region have been made such as workshops to utilize local resources, “Otakara Hakken (discovering treasures)! Map” and classes for training guides, etc. People living in “Susomi” and people attracted by the charms of “Susomi” established editorial department. Through gathering information about the region and events of “Susomi,” strangers and local people deepened communication with each other. They could establish the council because of the relationship. Hitomi Tanaka, the representative of NPO Tsukuba Kankyou Forum, served as the chief editor and had continued to publish the magazine since 2006. The position of “Susomiroku” has changed, it is currently positioned as an information magazine published by the council. Satoyama Archi Labo, the secretariat of the council, plays a central role in publication.

Satoyama culture in which human and nature are closely intertwined had been around for many years in Tai district, Tsukuba City. The continued existence of Satoyama culture has been threatened by aging and the outflow of successors. As an action of a company, a lot of people from urban cities visit the area and there is a network in the area to accept them. This might enable the area to succeed Satoyama culture in a new way. In the past, everything was circulating within the area. It became difficult to continue due to the decrease of the bearers of the area. To resolve this situation, it is one way to bring people from outside. “Redesign Japan who is becoming a shrinking society,” Mr. Kariuchi is talking about, is not to succeed exactly what it used to be but to pass perpetuated Satoyama culture to future generations by changing it slightly to suit the social situation.

In addition, through continuing cultivation at underproductive rice paddy fields being abandoned due to the aging of farmers and managing them as the places for urban children to interact with living creatures, biodiversity of the area will be conserved. The system that acknowledges the values of rice paddy fields and bear the costs including time and effort makes it possible.

We hope that there will be more and more “communication between cities and farming villages” like this case. In this case, as bearers of the scenery and natural environment of farming villages, urban citizen came to the area and conducted activities together with local people. With changes in the social structure throughout Japan taking place, redesign of Japan like this case will be more and more important. Whether they be other companies in the same business or companies in other fields, we’d like them to promote these activities.


・Project cooperation/project accord


・Biodiversity/ nature conservation ・Social business/CSR

People involved (Actor and Partners)