Ishidera Village

The village of Ishidera has a history of 1,200-years. Ishidera is a well-administered agricultural village blessed with a healthy environment and abundant natural resources by its location near both Kojinyama mountain and Lake Biwa. The village is surrounded by rice fields. It is an example of the Japanese satoyama, which refers to a traditional farming settlement along with its surrounding and supporting forests and mountains.  Satoyama was the characteristic environment of the Japanese countryside for millenia up until the spread of mechanized agriculture in the twentieth century. Even today, 20%-40% of the Japanese countryside is thought to be composed of satoyama. Ishidera village currently consists of about 90 households. It is now a part of the City of Hikone.


For more than ten years, Ishidera and The University of Shiga Prefecture have collaborated on village revitalization project, led by Professor Osamu Ukai. Through the revitalization project, traditional houses in the community have been converted to student share-houses which operate according to principles of ecological sustainability. The share-houses, called ecominka, use wood cut in the nearby woods for fuel and heat, strive to reduce energy use, and use environmentally friendly soap and other materials. Collaborative activities between Ishidera and USP also include regular help by USP students with agricultural work in the village. The collaborative project has created a community space in one of the share-houses, called Hohoemi (Smile) House, where local residents and students can meet and interchange, and a community bar and café. Other collaboration includes monthly collective satoyama maintenance activities, such as felling trees for fuel, clearing weeds, and cleaning trash from ponds and waterways (carried out with the assistance of the Hikone Design Campus Kojinyama College at USP in this past year).