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Staff / From behind the scene of Echigo-Tsumari

What is "Tanada Bank" for me?

22 October 2020

One of the mottos of “Matsudai Tanada Bank” is “to engage with as many people with diverse background as possible”. We realise, from our conversation with different satooya (we call owners as satooya for this project) at events such as rice planting and harvesting, that they have their own appreciations of the project and they seek for what they can do. How they relate themselves to the project are all different and how often they participate in events on site is also up to each satooya. The fact that each satooya is very unique is something we feel proud of as one of the strengths of Matsudai Tanda Bank. 

In this column, we interviewed one of the satooya members. Let’s find out what “Matsudai Tanada Bank” is from Satooya’s point of view, not from the perspective of the operation team.

―Please tell us about yourself.

Shimizu-san: My name is Shimizu Kazuki. I work for a company called “Ridilover” which aims to propagate appreciation of social challenges and seek to resolve such issues at early stage. I joined the company in April last year after gaining experience in different jobs.

Ridilover Inc / Fourth from the right in the back row is Shimizu-san

Established in 2013. The company engages with projects that connect people with social challenges. Regarding all the social issues as something that can be resolved, they take three steps “identifying an issue”, “socialising the issue” and “investing resources” as they attend and resolve the issue. They deal with is more than 350 different kinds of social issues and organise and operate study-tours, provide online workshop to leaern social issues called “Ridi-bu”, own on-line media called “Ridilover Journal” to publish investigation reports, run HR development program for corporations “Field Academy”, and coordinate “Ridi-fes”, a conference discussing social issues. The company also works in cooperation with companies and public sectors to plan project in recent years.

―What made you to become a satooya of Matsudai Tanada Bank?

When I participated in the long-term program in Echigo-Tsumari, I had an opportunity to talk with local people and staff member of the ETAT operation team and I also learnt about Matsudai Tanada Bank then.  I had a moment to think throughly about the scheme as I faced with the locals who were actually producing rice. That experience made me think that it was important to support “people who have been devoting themselves to maintain the terraced rice field”. There was no other way but to join Matsudai Tanada Bank to do so then. I was wondering why not everyone would take up a membership.

― Has anything changed from before since you joined the Matsudai Tanada Bank?

To tell you the truth, my father was not supportive of my decision of changing my career and joining Ridilover. Opposition from my father in particular made me feel of being rejected for the first time in my life. My parents were content as my life seemed to be going well after graduating from a university and receiving an offer from the previous company. So they misunderstood that “all of sudden, our son decides to join a start-up company, dreaming of making a fortune quickly”.  While we fixed our relation on surface afterward, they still didn’t appreciate my decision. I thought there was no way that I could exlain about the current job in words and I should show them my work to gain their understanding.  I was hoping that “one day, the company I work for will be fatured in a newspaper” but one day I realised “I know, I can send them rice.”

―What a radical change of viewpoint. Shimizu-san is satooya of basic course. The amount of rice you are entitiled to receive as satooya on average is 30kg, which is equivalent of the amount one grown-up eat in half-a-year. Do you send all of rice to your parents?

Yes, I send all to my parents. For my parents, a big bag of rice was sent to their house one day without pre-notice.

Staff members from Ridilover weeding in the summer

―Could you elaborate why “sending rice from Matsudai Tanda Bank” was a breakthrough for your life decision to be understood by your parents?

I realised that words, for those who don’t wish to receive, don’t reach at all no matter how much you try. That meant I needed to show using something other than words which also have some resonance with the current job. I thought “rice would be a wonderful common language I could use with my father.” Farming was much closer to everyday life for my parents generation and quite many people would regard such scene as their “landscape of the heart”. I was hopeful that one day in future, sending rice would help build a ground to communicate (rather than words) that “the rice I had sent you was produced in the rice field the company I work for is involved with”.

― May we ask how your father responded?

My father isn’t a person who would compliment the taste of rice. But when I asked my mother, he said that “this rice is rather delicious” at a dinner table. While the situation hasn’t changed for the better all at once, it was a moment something has shifted. While I support Matsudai Tanada Bank as a satooya, I also work on ETAT through my work at Ridilover. By keeping sending rice for five years to my parents, I hope they will join events of Matsudai Tanada Bank or to the festival. I think there is only a few people who would leave Echigo-Tsumari by saying “I didn’t get it”.

A snapshot of meeting with local people at the rice harvesting event which impressed Shimizu-san. (2019). Local people made onigiri rice ball and served to participants on spot. (photo by YANAGI Ayumi)

― We recognise that there are increasing demands such as “sending rice to someone while you attend events as satooya” or “giving the ownership to someone”. What is the most attractive aspect of Matsudai Tanada Bank to you?

It is precisely the fact that you are a part of “the chain of giving”. The rice you receive in return for your membership can be given to other people. In other words, what you gain from Matsudai Tanada Bank, whether it is a bag of rice or experience or network with other people can be fruitful and helpful to the other people in future. This is the key. I personally believe that rice can be a common language beyond generation and background and giving such rice to other people has a profound meaning.

― Lastly, could you give some message to those who are considering to join Matsudai Tanada Bank?

(After thinking for a while), I think it is best if you join for yourself, not for other people. I strongly believe that joining Matsudai Tanada Bank will become something truely meaningful to yourself rather than universal benefits such as “receiving rice” or “entitlement to participate in events.” While you may feel a bar is set hight when hearing about “helping and supporting terraced rice field”, you don’t have to be noble about it. Well, there is something noble about it, too. In any case, I would like you to visit Echigo-Tsumari as a start and Matsudai Tanada Bank could be one of the motivations to do so.”

Staff member of Ridilover, picking up vegetables with local people (Fourth from the left is Shimizu-san)

What Matsudai Tanada Bank can do for satooya is only sending rice harvested in return for their investment? I have been asking myself since I took charge of this project. I feel that talking with Shimizu-san gave me a great idea.

Matsudai Tanada Bank is a evolving project. More satooya means more rice field we can take over and continue to produce rice. “Just for yourself” – please come and visit us in Echigo-Tsumari.


Onozuka Ai, staff in charge of Matsudai Tanada Bank


Matsudai Tanada Bank

Matsudai Tanada Bank is one of the projects that ETAT is commited to. Matsudai area of Tokamachi-city in Niigata Prefecture is know for terraced rice field including the popular one in Hoshitoge. Matsudai Tanada Bank is a scheme to take over rice field which has lost people to look it after and continue to produce rice. Making use of the network built through ETAT, Matsudai Tanada Bank nurtures exchange between city and region as it engages with diverse range of people including satooya (owners), local people, artists, cooperation and students.
≫ Click here to visit the official website
≫ Click here to purchse newly harvested rice (Echigo-Tsumari On-line shop)

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