Learning about Tsubaki on Oshima Island, A Package Tour That Makes You Think about Your Own Values, The Reasons Why We Traveled to the Island
The Izu Oshima Future Project promotes learning about the island and packed tours so that there will be more people who will continually be involved with and visit the island. A package tour titled “The Reasons Why We Traveled to the Island” took place from February 4th to 5th, 2023. Articles inviting the general public to join the tour were published online in order to get frank and honest opinions. Seven people joined the tour this time.
The main concept for this tour was the island’s representative flower, tsubaki. The tour group learned how the flower, its fruit and oils relate to life on the island. The tour was designed so that people would discover and think back upon their own values through actual experiences.
The first day of the tour consisted of many different activities to get in touch with the nature the island has to offer. Oshima High School hosts an excellent tsubaki garden and offers an agriculture and forestry class, with the high school students themselves growing tsubaki flowers. The high school students explained the different types of seeds the tsubaki plant has and the differences among the variations. Often, people from outside the island aren’t aware of the different variations of the plant but with the guidance from the students, the tour group was able to understand the plant a bit better.
The group experienced and learned about the extremities and history of the island’s nature, including Mt. Mihara, the island’s active volcano and Ura-sabaku, the island’s desert. By sharing this experience together, the group became closer and more familiar with each other.
Up next is a workshop to create photo frames using the husk of the seeds of the tsubaki flower, which were originally discarded. Creating the frames allowed participants of the tour to take their time and reflect upon themselves. Many of them, usually living busy lives, enjoyed the opportunity to concentrate and create something with their hands.
At night, the group enjoyed each other’s company with some hot pot. Conversation was lively, talking about how Camellia Berkshire pigs are fed and raised with the tsubaki fruit and nuts.
The second day, based on the input of the first day, was filled with sports, drinking coffee and reflecting on the change of personal values for each of the participants of the tour.
The morning activity took place at Oshimacho Memorial Park, where people passed away due to a landslide in 2013. It may be a picturesque park now, but the park was created to remember the importance of preparing for a disaster and to pray for recovery. Touching upon Oshima’s history living with a volcano and flood disasters is one thing take away when visiting the island.
Lastly, participants talked about what they learned and experienced these two days. Using calligraphy, they wrote down words that represent their values and what’s important to them. They posed with their words where their picture was taken using an instant camera. That picture was then put into the frame they created on the first day, creating a perfect, memory-filled souvenir to take home with them.
Survey of the participants indicated that all of them wanted to come back and experience the island again. Using these tours enabled us to understand what was important to the group; this is important information going forward as we promote these tours to the general public. We will continue these tours and other measures to promote the island as a regular destination and for people to truly be involved with the island on a deeper level.