Yakushima Time

Takeshi Fukumoto/OYAKO LABO (Parent-Child Laboratory)

Helping children to develop life skills

Takeshi Fukumoto/OYAKO LABO (Parent-Child Laboratory)

Until last year, Mr. Fukumoto worked as an instructor at the Yakushima Center for Environmental Culture Education where he managed a variety of nature-based educational activities. Now he is wearing multiple hats as a guide for a local pre-school, a meeting facilitator, a producer at an after school program for environmental education, and as the leader of OYAKO LABO.

OYAKO LABO conducts monthly workshops for parents and children that combine nature with play and nature with art. Generally at least ten families participate in each workshop.

Takeshi Fukumoto/OYAKO LABO (Parent-Child Laboratory)

“I want to create an environment where children can play to their hearts’ content, an environment where they will feel free to make mistakes.” While Mr. Fukumoto started this lab with children in mind, recent programs have been designed for their parents’ enjoyment as well.

“When their parents appear to be having a good time, the children enjoy themselves too.”

As a father of two kids…

“If the children interact with nature and develop an affection for this island, these early experiences may help them to have an invested interest in local matters when they grow up.”    A father of two children, Mr. Fukumoto hopes to provide a good environment for his and other children to live in. In addition to their monthly workshops, this summer OYAKO LABO traveled to, camped on, and spent time with the children living on Kuchinoerabu, a small island nearby.

In the future, Mr. Fukumoto plans to hold events not only for the children of Yakushima, but also for children from off the island so they too can experience the nature here. He plans to put this idea into practice by welcoming off-island children to a “Yakushima free camp” for elementary school age children.

“If you ignite the potential that children already have, they will grow on their own. And that will help them to develop their individuality as well.” Watched over by Mr. Fukumoto, the island’s children play with great abandon, and when summer comes one finds another group of darkly-tanned and smiling children.

Takeshi Fukumoto/OYAKO LABO (Parent-Child Laboratory)

Reported by: Sanpotei Rei Ogata