An Excursion for Kubota Corporation in Kyoto

Regreen held a training excursion program in Kyoto on the theme of “Sustainability in Kyoto from Ancient to Modern Times” for the management of Kubota Corporation’s overseas branches.

Japan is one of the oldest existing countries in the world. Since the Jomon Era, people from various regions have entered the Japanese archipelago at various times, through several climate changes and environmental changes, and have repeatedly fused together to develop a diverse culture and spirituality.

The Heian-kyo Capital also continued to function as the capital from 794 A.D. when the capital was moved from Nagaoka-kyo to Kyoto until 1868. Since then, Kyoto has continued to serve as the spiritual capital of the Japanese people, and it can be said that Kyoto is a living capital that continues to grow with the times and is visited by many people from abroad.

We explained how our ancestors created the country of Japan and Heian-kyo (Kyoto), why they were able to continue for so long, the people who were involved in the creation of the country and the capital, the natural environment and resources of the surrounding areas that were involved, what life was like there, and how it has continued to function as the capital since the Meiji Era.

The main theme of our talk was the challenges of our predecessors from ancient times to the present day and what we can apply to the present day.

Talk was involved our own research and experience in Kyoto our former base area.

We explained about our research on thatching and sustainable local landscape, its natural environment, local activities, cities, modern technology, and their relationship and possibility of fusion them to make future sustainable society.

First, we climbed Shogunduka Mound, a mountain where we can overlook the city of Kyoto.

We explained about the geographical and topographical features of the Kyoto basin, how and who built Heian-kyo, the thoughts, ideas and ingenuity that went into it, the existence of the Katsura River, which was essential for water transportation and the construction of the capital, the origin of the surrounding areas such as Keihoku, the area upstream from the Katsura River, and their major contributions to the construction of the capital.

The differences between the short-lived Asuka- and Nara-period capitals and Heian-kyo, and how epidemics and natural disasters of the time affected urban planning, house building, life style, and culture.

In 694, when Fujiwara-kyo, Japan’s first large-scale capital, was built in the style of the China, the Nara Basin was a bald mountain, and it was impossible to obtain the timber needed for the construction of the capital. The Fujiwara-kyo Capital was built by transporting timber from Mount Tanakami in present Shiga Prefecture by four rivers water transport and land transport. In the construction of the Heijo-kyo Capital, most of the buildings of the Fujiwara-kyo Capital were dismantled, and lumber and roof tiles were transported more than ten kilometers to build the Heijo-kyo Capital.

After that, lumber and other materials remained valuable and were used in the construction of Nagaoka-kyo and Heian-kyo.

In that period, the country was on the verge of extinction, having been defeated by the Tang Dynasty in the Battle in the middle of 7th century, and there was a continuing struggle for power among powerful clans, as well as frequent earthquakes, typhoons, and other natural disasters and epidemics.

In the midst of this situation, our predecessors shared their wisdom on how to create a country that would last for a long time, and came up with a fundamental national system and urban planning that reflected this system.

The Hata clan, which played a major role in the construction of Heian-kyo, contributed greatly to Japan’s national development and the building of Heian-kyo from ancient times, and as a result, Heian-kyo continued to exist as a capital for over 1,000 years with reflecting the philosophy, thoughts, and beliefs of the Hata clan, which aimed to create a peaceful and long-lasting country and capital.

This is something that can be seen in the way we should aim for the world today.

Next, we went to see The Lake Biwa Canal in which Mr. Gonshiro Kubota, the founder of Kubota Corporation, was involved. We went around the incline, past Nanzenji Temple, and explained Suirokaku, while watching the The Lake Biwa Canal flowing by the Kyoto Zoological Gardens.

Here, we mainly explained about the purpose and significance of The Lake Biwa Canal Project, how the project was created, how the canal was designed by a young civil engineer named Sakuro Tanabe, how Kyoto developed its industries, achieved modernization, and created the Kyoto that continues to this day, and how the water pipes for the project were manufactured by Kubota Corporation.

We explained about the footsteps of Mr. Gonshiro Kubota, the founder of Kubota Corporation, who was involved in the production of water pipes for the canal project, and the founder’s spirit of contribution to the society.

In the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the population of Kyoto was reduced to 2/3 of its original size as the Emperor, the Imperial Family, and political institutions moved to Tokyo. Therefore, The Lake Biwa Canal Project was planned to bring water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto in order to create new industries, promote modernization, create employment, and ensure a safe and stable urban lifestyle.

Using water from Lake Biwa, Japan’s first hydroelectric power generation and trains were built, contributing to the development of industries that would later be followed by companies such as Nintendo and Kyocera, as well as ensuring safe drinking water for daily use.

It also created beautiful landscapes that are representative of Kyoto, such as the Suirokaku at Nanzenji Temple and the Philosopher’s Path near Ginkakuji Temple, and are still loved by people all over the world.

The Lake Biwa Canal is not what it once was, but what it continues to support Kyoto to this day.

We believe that the way of civil engineering such as thatch, shrines and temples, and Heian-kyo, which is similar to the architecture and urban development of the past, is the way of architecture, cities, regions, national land, and civil engineering that Regreen should aim for, which is sustainable, in harmony with nature, and can create beautiful landscape that will be loved by people for generations to come. We believe that this is the way architecture, cities, regions, national lands, and civil engineering should be.

We believe that the philosophy and passion of our predecessors are at the root of such a vision, and we even believe that this is the most important thing.

After that, we talked about our research to date on the bus, followed by a Q&A session on the day’s program at the Kyoto International Conference Center.

In the course of this talk, we were asked by organizer to talk about a field that they have not been usually exposed to, and to make a talk that would enhance their perspective that would be suggestive for future business development.

Kubota Corporation is a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, but in addition to manufacturing and selling machinery, the company is seeking to develop its business from a variety of perspectives, including urban development and sustainable agriculture.

So we talked how agriculture is related to the development of Heian-kyo as a capital and the development of Japan as a country, and how thatching is related to that, and how we can think about and create the future from that.

Thatching is not only an architectural element of old private houses, but also requires wood, soil, and thatch to create them, and it is important to create and maintain forests and thatch fields. In the process of creating and maintaining them, we can create biodiversity, natural cycles on the ecosystem along the river from the forest to the sea, a rich environment for living creatures, rich soil and water, prevention of landslides, countermeasures against global warming, and a diverse microbial environment.

And it is possible to create not only old private houses, but also new thatched architecture and cities composed of such architecture that can solve the problems of old private houses while enabling a modern lifestyle.

For example, thatched roofs, walls, interior materials, and products can be made from thatch, and after several decades of use, it can be reused as fertilizer for the fields or as fuel for biomass energy.

By creating a modern version of the comprehensive cyclic relationship that existed in the past, we can create architecture, cities, regions, and natural environments with a healthy cycle for both people and nature.

In addition, the knowledge gained from the study of microbial environments in thatched houses can be applied to the interior materials of architecture in the space for the future.

In addition, while there are limitations to considering the global environment from the ground, by viewing the Earth from space, it is possible to get a bird’s eye view of the resources and energy used in people’s lives, cities, architecture, and other aspects of life on Earth. It is also important to optimize the use of resources and energy so that we can live sustainably on the Earth, our mother planet.

Thatched roofs may have a strong image as something from the past, but by exploring new possibilities by combining other natural materials and modern technologies, we can create a better relationship with the global environment while that will allow humanity to continue to exist on the Earth.

This time, we were able to give a three-hour digest of what we have researched, been impressed by, and thought we could apply to the future sustainable society to the global leaders of Kubota Corporation’s overseas branches.

There are still many things we cannot fully convey, but we would be more than happy if the participants were able to gain some hints for their future business development and the creation of a sustainable society from this program.

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