ITOCHU Announces the Start of KidZania Tokyo Eco Shop Pavilion Activity No. 3: Make Your Own Chopsticks to Carry Along
October 30, 2012
ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that on November 19th, ITOCHU will launch “Make Your Own Chopsticks to Carry Along” using home-grown wood at KidZania Tokyo’s Eco Shop pavilion. ITOCHU has been an official sponsor of the pavilion since April of this year at KidZania Tokyo (Toyosu, Koto-ku, Tokyo), an interactive facility where children can experience diverse occupations, which is operated by KCJ Group Inc. (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Einosuke Sumitani, President & CEO).
About The Eco Shop Pavilion
The Eco Shop Pavilion is a pavilion where children can experience conservation activities. These activities utilize the knowledge of environmental education accumulated through the global environmental “MOTTAINAI Campaign” (based in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; Tatsuo Nanai, Representative), in which ITOCHU participates. New environmentally themed activities are featured approximately every four months, such as creating My Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth, Eco-Bag for Shopping, and My Chopsticks to Carry Along using eco-friendly materials. And for every child that participates, an amount equivalent to the cost of one tree sapling is donated to the Green Belt Movement, a tree planting campaign established in Kenya by Professor Wangari Maathai (1940-2011). This initiative is intended to help the participating children become familiar with global environmental issues and experience the joy of participating in specific actions to address them.
The environment is a theme that is familiar to children. The first activity, Make Your Own Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth, and the second activity, Make Your Own Eco-Bag for Shopping, were both favorably received by parents. They made comments such as, “my children have become more aware of environmental issues in everyday life in their own way.”
Make Your Own Chopsticks to Carry Along
The third activity, Make Your Own Chopsticks to Carry Along, will commence on November 19, with children able to design and create their own original, easy-to-use chopsticks by selecting their favorite symbols and characters, inscribing them on their chopsticks with the special carving machine and polishing the chopsticks with a rasp and beeswax.
The chopsticks will be made from Japanese yew, a home-grown conifer. This tree is characterized by its fine, attractive grain, and it is easy to work with. In addition, using home-grown wood allows children to learn the importance of protecting the Japanese forests, as well as the meaning of using a home-grown material, through the activity.
The children can take home the tools such as the rasp and beeswax so that they can work on their chopsticks at home and maintain and polish them to use as their very own “eco-product” for a long time to come. This aims to raise awareness in respect of environmental conservation in the daily lives of the children, for example to encourage them to take care of their things and to avoid using disposable chopsticks.
ITOCHU initiatives for fostering the next generations
Under the corporate philosophy “Committed to the Global Good,” ITOCHU advocates fostering the next generations as one of the Basic Activity Guidelines on Social Contribution. Established in 1974, ITOCHU Foundation has been active in supporting children’s libraries and creating electronic libraries for disabled children. It held a Summer Children’s Class in which local elementary school children were invited to study issues such as global warming, as well as the ITOCHU Baseball Class for enjoying baseball along with disabled children. It also offered subsidies to youth independence support facilities in the Philippines. The Group will continue to actively promote activities that support the sound nurturing of young people.
KidZania (http://www.kidzania.jp/ ) is a theme park for children where they can experience diverse occupations. The park originated in Mexico. In Japan, KidZania Tokyo opened in 2006 and KidZania Koshien opened in 2009. Both have been very popular as interactive facilities where children can learn about the structure of society while having fun. Some sixty enterprises currently operate pavilions, with around 830,000 people visiting each year.
The word “mottainai” embodies the meaning of reducing (reducing waste), reusing, and recycling, together with respect for the earth’s irreplaceable resources. The MOTTAINAI Campaign (http://mottainai.info/) is a global campaign that uses this word as an internationally recognized catchphrase for protecting the environment, with the aim of creating a sustainable and recycling-oriented society by promoting lifestyles that have less of an impact on the environment. The Campaign was proposed by Professor Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement tree planting campaign in Kenya, and was launched in 2005. ITOCHU and many other enterprises have shown their support for the Campaign, supporting the philosophy of Professor Maathai and the Green Belt Movement in various ways, for instance by promoting the use of environmentally-friendly products such as the Furoshiki Wrapping Cloth, Eco-Bag for Shopping, Chopsticks to Carry Along, the donation of a portion of profits from flea markets, and one-click fundraising.
About the use of home-grown wood
The process of growing a forest requires weeding, thinning and other groundwork to create an environment where trees can grow with no restrictions. However, it has been difficult to achieve this due to the stagnant forestry industry in Japan. Repeating the forest cycle, which consists of planting, fostering (caring) and harvesting, grows a healthy forest and sustainably provides us with a quality environment and resources. The stable consumption of home-grown wood is essential for achieving this. Promoting products made from domestically-produced materials will lead to the development of Japanese forests and the absorption of CO2. [Reference] Website of Forest Supporters, a national campaign to promote beautiful forestry promoted by the Forestry Agency: