Kiwanosato is a small village located in southern Japan, at a distance of 180km from the city of Hiroshima.
Faced with the challenges of a sharply ageing yet active population, ’The Dream Plan in Kiwanosato’ was originally proposed in 2006 as a community initiative to develop a future for the village. A Gathering Group for Kiwanosato was established to further the project. Initial activities were self-funded but the group has since received support from the government, Yamaguchi prefecture and Shimonoseki city. The working group has a good relationship with two neighbouring villages and together they organise numerous events throughout the year connected to the land and its harvests and celebrations. These include rice planting, bamboo harvesting, potato and peanut cultivation, kim-chi making and somen noodle parties (a sort of slip and slide for noodles).
UK arts organisation Grizedale Arts began their collaboration with the Kiwanosato Gathering Group in 2016, introduced by Motoko Fujita, a Dublin-based artist and photographer who grew up nearby. Together they produce wide-ranging initiatives for locals and visitors which build on the first ten years of the ’The Dream Plan in Kiwanosato’ and form a sustainable future that is shared with other communities globally.
As part of the Dream Plan, a disused village farmhouse was converted in 2008-10 into a community house by a team from Yamaguchi University. Original features of the house were restored and a traditional Goemon-style bath house was built. The farmhouse is managed by the community and open to the public to experience traditional farm living. The modest funds generated through rentals support the maintenance of the building. The project also has use of the village's former school building, which hosts larger visiting groups in simple accommodation.