Session ⁄ Event

03 Yonezawa

Session Information

Date and
Sunday, November 6th, 2022 (14:00~16:00)
Tazawa Community Center
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This event has ended.
You can watch an archived video of this event.
Attendance is free
Tazawa Community Center
Tazawa Community Center Tazawa Community Center

Event Report

Regional Forum

The Yonezawa Regional Forum discussing measures to utilize the value of Somokuto for regional revitalization.

View of the event

There were also comments from the audience, and a lively exchange of opinions took place.

The second Regional Forum of the 2022 YAMAGATA Youth Summit 2022 was held on November 6th at Tazawa Community Center in Yonezawa City. The theme of the day was “Somokuto Cultural Heritage and the SDGs,” and panelists held a productive discussion where they exchanged opinions and ideas on how to promote the values that the Somokuto stand for, as well as their potential role in regional development.

Somokuto are a type of stone spiritual monument commonly found in many places here and around Yamagata Prefecture, especially in the southern Okitama Region. They express gratitude and recognition for nature's blessings, such as the grass and trees. Entrusting your wishes to them is thought to help protect lives from disasters and dangerous mountain work and to ensure that the forest's resources will remain abundant forever.

The oldest recorded Somokuto was built in 1780in the Tazawa district of Yonezawa City, and many Somokuto still stand in the same district. Carrying on these ancient themes of "expressing gratitude to nature," much of the discussion centered around the topic of how to continue to keep this philosophy alive not only in Japan but how we can convey it to the rest of the world as we focus on regional development in a global context.

Since ancient times, the Japanese have lived in harmony with nature and have prospered thanks to its many blessings. Somokuto, which express this appreciation for nature, are a symbolic amplification of Japanese culture and, at the same time, a world view in which the economy, society, and the environment are in harmony. While the existence of Somokuto and the value they contain are not widely known these days, in the modern age, this mind frame presents itself as the basis for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are nearly ubiquitous in the 21st century.

Thanks to this connection with the SDGs, the number of people visiting Somokuto is gradually increasing, and significant efforts have been made to distribute maps, booklets, and general information about the Somokuto in the Tazawa area.

During the discussion, all the panelists agreed that we need to do more to promote and disseminate these themes of nature appreciation and how it relates to Japanese spiritual culture to the world. Various ideas on how to do this were brought up, such as arranging tours and collaborating with the International Exchange Association to help make foreigners aware. In addition, there were ideas to help make this an economically sustainable practice through means of selling food grown in the forests and mountains, making amulets, and meeting to pray yearly.

There was also talk about using technology such as creating web content, augmented reality (AR) technology, or QR codes that interact with your smartphone to promote Somokuto culture. There was also a suggestion that a stamp rally or other fun events might be good as well.

Kyoshin Arasawa

Advisor Kyoshin Arasawa explained the meaning and philosophy behind the Somokuto.

 Yumeto Ito

Panelist Yumeto Ito talked about the intersection of the Somokuto and the worldview of the SDGs.

Airi Suzuki

Ms. Airi Suzuki, a panelist, spoke about her thoughts on the Somokuto from the standpoint of a high school student.

comedy duo Solaseed

The dynamic local Yamagata comedy duo Solaseed livened up the dissection with their quick wit paired with their meaningful ideas.

Mika Kuroda

"Satoyama Sommelier" Mika Kuroda participates remotely.

Ken Miura

Ken Miura, the facilitator.

The Somokuto in the Tazawa area

The Somokuto in the Tazawa area convey a message of appreciation for nature.

YouTube Live

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Regional Forum

Somokuto Cultural Heritage and the SDGs


  • Kyoshin Arasawa
    Oitama Somukuto Association

    Kyoshin Arasawa

    Born April 22, 1960, Kyoshin Arasawa lives in Kuchitazawa, Yonezawa City, and is currently a Buddhist monk (Dentakuji Dentakuji of Tazawa Temple (Daigo school of Shingon Buddhism)). In April 1991, he began working as an employee of the Yonezawa City Tazawa Community Center (former Tazawa Community Center), which was outsourced to the private sector, however, he has since retired in March 2010.
    As a member of the Oitama Somokuto Association, he is involved in the maintenance, preservation, and research of the Somokuto in the district. He also is active in the environmental maintenance of the mountain behind Tazawaji Temple and regularly engages in activities to bring himself closer to the forest.

  • Yumeto Ito
    Yonezawa City Counselor

    Yumeto Ito

    Born on March 31, 1985, Yumeto Ito lives in Yonezawa City, and as a Yonezawa City councilor, oversees the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as works with both private citizens and companies to stimulate the region through local revitalization projects. He also serves as a senior advisor to a major entertainment company in Tokyo, an educational startup in Okinawa and is also engaged in corporate strategy and overseas expansion. For 12 years leading up to 2021, he worked as an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was engaged in the overseas expansion of Japanese companies, UN diplomacy, and organizational management. Regarding the SDGs, he oversaw the presentation at the United Nations by Foreign Minister Kishida (now Prime Minister) and worked to build on projects related to public relations activities in Japan. In 2019, while working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he founded a general incorporated association and has multiple achievements related to town development, such as creating “Bases where People Gather” throughout Japan and building networks between different industries.

  • Mika Kuroda
    Representative of Human Resource Development Academy Rose Lane ⁄ Satoyama Sommelier ⁄ Chairman of Yonezawa City International Exchange Association

    Mika Kuroda

    Originally from Tokyo, Mika Kuroda holds her Master's in Engineering and formerly worked as an international flight attendant. Although she had only ever been to Yamagata once before, after living in Denmark, she moved to Yonezawa in 2001 and has been living in the historic woodland forests ever since. While balancing raising her family and her professional ambitions, she launched a human resource development business that conducts human resource development at companies and provides English education for children. Kuroda is also involved in early childhood forest education (Satoyama Forest Kindergarten Research Group) and career education at universities. She also is active in various fields, such as regional revitalization, immigration, family education, tourism, international exchange, and gives lectures. In the past, she has opened up her home to hold various events such as the Satoyama Market and Tohoku Nordic Living Exhibition. Additionally, she is a local FM broadcast (Okitama GO FM84.3) is a personality on "STEPS Satoyama Sommelier Days" and wrote the book "Living in the Forest."

  • Kotono Sioux Kilner
    Oshoshina Community Revitalization Volunteer Group

    Kotono Sioux Kilner

    Born in Setagaya Ward in March of 1994, Kotono Sioux Kilner's parents come from Yamagata and the U.K., respectively. Kilner attended all three years of senior high school at Christian Dokuritsu Gakuen High School in Oguni-machi, Yamagata, and then returned to Tokyo after graduation. Currently, she is a member of the Safflower Project and is active in promoting Yonezawa's safflower industry.

  • Panelist
    Kunori Gakuen High School 2nd Year (Local-global Type) Research Project Student

    Airi Suzuki

  • Sorashido
    Yoshimoto Entertainment Resident Entertainer


    With 23 years of entertainment experience, the comedy duo has resided in Yamagata Prefecture for four years and show off the beauty and charm of the region through their act.

    left)Ganji Honbo(boke)
    Born: August 7, 1978 (44 years old)
    Hometown: Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture
    Hobbies ⁄ special skills:Playing the sanshin, watching movies, DIY, farming

    right)Seiichiro Mizuguchi(tsukkomi)
    Born: April 7, 1976 (46 years old)
    Hometown: Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture
    Hobbies ⁄ special skills: Karaoke, cooking, learning about animals

    Appointed Nanyo City Ramen Ambassador in 2020
    Appointed Yamagata Tsuyahime Ambassador in 2021
    2021 Nishikawa Town Gassan Hometown Ambassador (Ganji Honbo only)

Ken Miura
Facilitator Ken Miura Brand new day Co., Ltd. Representative ⁄ Branding Producer

Born in Yamagata in 1993, after graduating from Nihon University Yamagata Senior High School, Ken Miura studied abroad at the University of Washington in the United States. After consulting for sole proprietors, he ended up working in brand strategy consultation development for corporations. Currently, he mainly works on helping small and medium-sized enterprises formulate their missions and visions in order to discover and verbalize their unique values. His services cover a wide variety of fields including websites, advertisements, new business development, and recruitment,all of which lead back to him providing a total brand strategy that instills a strong internal company philosophy reflecting their values as companies.

Naoko Inoue
Host Naoko Inoue

Born December 28, 1974, in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture, and raised in Kawanishi, Naoko Inoue is currently a proud resident of Nagai City. During her time as a student at Kunori Gakuen Girl's High School in Yonezawa, she transferred to Glendora High School in California, USA in 1991 before going on to study at California's very own Citrus College. In 1998, she returned to Japan after experiencing working at a travel agency in LA and trying her hand at the media talent industry.
Over the years, Inoue has worn many hats. Radio DJ, commercial narrator, lounge DJ, bilingual English and Japanese moderator, a TV reporter for YBC Yamagata Broadcasting, TUY, and SAY Sakurambo TV, a magazine model (Bi Story), an interpreter, and to top it all off, she is currently active as an English teacher at a nursery school as well as performing as one of the Yamagata Maiko. There are very few things that she hasn't done! In addition, she is one of the instructors of the Yamagata Prefectural Board of Education's "Learn from Professionals" program.


Our Inherited History and Culture
Online Tour for Adults

Date: November 6th (Sunday) 10:00 ~ 11:30
Limit: 50 People (First come first served)

In this online tour, in collaboration with the YAMAGATA Youth Summit 2022, local guides will guide you around Yonezawa City and highlight local spots of significant historical and cultural heritage.
Starting at Uesugi Shrine, a shrine that enshrines Kenshin Uesugi as a deity, you can get a taste of Yonezawa spots and feel the importance of its historical legacy. One such spot that will be visited is the Somokuto Monument in Yonezawa City's Tazawa District, which is said to be the oldest of nearly 60 similar stone monuments found in the Okitama Region. We have designed a rich itinerary with special content that is chalked with famous places in Yonezawa City that cannot be experienced in any other way!
We are looking forward to having you attend!

*This event has ended.


Planning and Management:Yamagata Shimbun