Shinko Takami's 2008 Foundation Day Speech
Shinko Takami, wife of ARI Founder Toshihiro (Tom) Takami, spoke at the 2008 ARI Foundation Day. Please enjoy the full text of Shinko Takami's speech
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - 12:54 PM
"Leadership" Magazine article about ARI graduate Fr. Kizito in Uganda
The August 2008 issue of the "Leadership" magazine contains a nice article
with good pictures of the project of one of our graduates, Fr. Kizito. Fr. Kizito established this center after graduating from ARI. He is sending the Coordinator of the St. Patrick Center to ARI this year (2009) for training. Prof. Tasaka, mentioned in the article, is the former director of ARI and is now a board member of ARI.
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Thursday, January 29, 2009 - 10:12 AM
AFARI SAFARI III Highlights from Skip Dickinson
Skip Dickinson, AFARI SAFARI III participant, shared the following reflections on his trip to the Asian Rural Institute.
With a grateful heart I give many, many thanks for your support toward my travel to Japan in October to participate in the 36th Annual Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration of the Asian Rural Institute (ARI). Located near the city of Nasushiobara in northern Japan, ARI is an international training center on an 8 hectare integrated organic farm that invites 25 to 30 grass roots rural leaders from Asia, Africa and the Pacific to study for nine months every year in sustainable organic agricultural techniques, leadership and community development.
Highlights of my 17 day journey included:
Other highlights included:
- The reunion with ARI’s founder, the Rev. Dr. Toshihiro Takami, a Yale Divinity School classmate, and his lovely wife, Shinko Takami.
- Assembling for 6:30 AM exercises to a Japanese radio program, before chores;
- At ARI my personal morning and evening chores included feeding and caring for chickens, alongside a Muslim woman from Bangladesh and an Episcopal volunteer from Texas.
- The community meal times with grace sung in Japanese or English followed by a spoken prayer by a participant in his or her native tongue.
- Participating in worship and assembly by the community led by one of the participants.
- the offering of first fruits of the harvest at the outdoor amphitheatre gathering with the Ambassador and his wife from Maui as invited guests.
- Receiving the blessing by Takami sen sei raising his hand in benediction from his wheel chair.
- Observing with anticipation the early morning food preparation of indigenous dishes over open fires by participants and volunteers for the two day Celebration.
- Joining with over 2,000 visitors at the Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration.
Personal overnight stays with two clergy and their families:
- Visiting the famous Toshogu Shrine in Nikko where one sees carved on a lintel of the Sacred Stable the three “See no evil, Say no evil, Hear no evil” monkeys.
- Riding in a “Nursery Van” given to ARI by a nearby Nursery School. With brightly painted animal faces on its sides, the van evoked smiles from adults and often peals of laughter from children.
- A heartwarming visit with UCC missionary the Rev. Jeffrey Mensendiek at the Sendai Christian Center. Jeff and staff reach out to students at Sendai University and have led them in work camps as far away as India and Africa.
- Two overnight ferry rides to and from the northern island of Hokkaido, complete with my introduction to the welcome tradition of Japanese hot baths, and a Pacific Ocean sunrise.
- Visiting Menno Village, an organic farm on the Island of Hokkaido. Raymond Epp, born and raised in Nebraska runs the farm with his Japanese wife and helpers. With roots in the Mennonite faith, Menno Village provides food shares for eighty area families.
- Ray actively works with others to keep farmland free of GMO seeds on the island. His father-in-law, a retired Agricultural University professor, has pioneered the science of building insulation, and the farm is capable of storing the potato harvest through to the following June. With greenhouses, chickens, vegetable, rice and wheat cultivation, grains are harvested and processed on site, and wheat is milled for their own bakery.
- Visiting Rakuno Gakuin, an Agricultural University in Hokkaido which pioneered dairy science with a herd of Holstein cattle imported from Holland to Japan.
- Visiting the methane bio gas processing unit, and the Veterinary Science Teaching Hospital, premier in Japan and Asia.
- Learning of the Three Love Movement: Love of God, Love of Neighbor, and Love of the Earth (i.e. the Soil/ Land).
This has been a wonderful experience of a diverse and vital community working for food and earth sustainability and community leadership. I wholeheartedly join with the Asian Rural Institute in their motto, “That We May Live Together.”
- with the chaplain of the Agricultural University in Sapporo.
- with a local United Church of Japan pastor in northern Japan, author of a book on the church, its beginnings with German Reformed Missionaries (UCC), its history and present challenges. As the clergy person in the American visitors, I was presented with a copy, which fortunately for me has English summaries added to the Japanese text.
- Worship at a Japanese church where my inability to read Japanese characters did not diminish my experience of the vitality of prayer, singing and sharing in God’s love.
- A delightful Sunday afternoon visit to a model Jersey Farm in the highlands which processes its milk and ice cream and was crowded with visitors on a sunny fall day.
- Learning about the Rainbow Plan that has organized an entire town and surrounding rural community in the recycling of wastes and renewal of soil.
* An afternoon of sight seeing in Tokyo that included a visit to the oldest Buddhist Temple in Tokyo and a river boat ride back to the harbor.
- International plane flights that went well, with my first Rutland - Boston Cape Air flights offering wonderful views over the Green Mountains.
Jordan "Skip" Dickinson
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Saturday, November 29, 2008 - 8:39 AM
Takami-sensei Featured in Fuller Focus: "Leading Together: A Grassroots Approach"
ARI founder Takami-sensei was featured in the Fall, 2008 issue of Fuller Focus in an article called Leading Together: A Grassroots Approach
.Excerpt of the article:
“At ARI we live and work together, producing food from the good earth to support ourselves,” says Takami. “For we know by experience that unless we become self-supporting, in staple foodstuffs at least, it is practically impossible for us to gain selfhood or independence.” This, to Takami, is “foodlife work.” About 80 percent of the food consumed by ARI participants is produced right there on ARI’s 15-acre organic farm. And it means that everyone gets their hands dirty.
This approach does not come easily: “ARI is a very hard community to live in,” Takami says bluntly. “Each day we go through the difficult process of making corporate decisions—as consensus, not compromise. Each person—man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, strong or weak—has equal right and responsibility to participate. We know ‘people’s participation in human development’ is an indispensable key to realizing justice and peace. But this is easy to say and difficult to practice.”
The mutual learning that ultimately flows from this process, however, carries immeasurable value. Steven Cutting, ARI’s ecumenical relations director, says that a typical group discussion at ARI is often peppered with the phrase “In my country . . .” as participants bring their own experiences to bear in solving a problem. Initially highlighting how things are done differently in his or her country, the speaker often begins to see similarities.
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Saturday, November 22, 2008 - 11:24 AM
Peter Downs: Report of Volunteer Experience at ARI
We met Peter Downs at the 2008 HTC Celebration at ARI in October, and he told us about an article he wrote about his experience as a volunteer at ARI in 2005.
An excerpt from his report:
The people I met and worked with were the most memorable part of my visit. At times I was quite overcome by meeting so many beautiful and humble people devoted to the betterment of mankind. The work ethic of the Japanese was evident and was matched by all the volunteers working side by side from the Director on down. This made for a wonderful community spirit! Many of these people could easily acquire better paying and more prestigious jobs in the outside world.
I know this visit will remain in my memory the rest of my life and will be an inspiration to me in my life's mission.
I strongly support the way this mission is carried out. While foreign aid in many cases goes to despotic rulers and ends up in Swiss bank accounts, the aid given to ARI goes not only to ARI in Japan but reaches the grass roots people from those countries who send participants to the program.
Would I go back again? YES!
From the perspective of the participants, I see ARI as a little island of hope in a hostile world run by the most loyal and dedicated people (staff, volunteers, & supporters) that I've had the privilege of knowing. May they continue their devotion to ARI.
For more details, please see Peter's full report
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Tuesday, November 4, 2008 - 12:49 PM
AFARI Board Member Anne Dance Headed to Cameroon
AFARI Board Member Anne Dance is heading to Cameroon to assist a rural leaders training program there, set up along the lines of the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan.
For more information, please see the article "Cameroon Bound
" from the Port Stanley News.
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Thursday, September 25, 2008 - 1:27 PM
ARI Featured in the 2008 Global Ministries Newsletter Rights of Women and Girls
ARI was featured in an article about "Cultivating Leadership" in the 2008 Global Ministries
Newsletter on Women and Girls.
The full article is available in this PDF
; the text of the article follows.
Raising livestock, growing corn, feeding her family. Nozuko Toli’s aspirations aren’t lofty, but they are important, especially in her village, Amalinda, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Here, unemployment hovers around 80 percent. Toli, 28,
from the Kei Region of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, is like many others in her area – farmers who, without additional work, cannot afford seed and fertilizers. Furthermore, the pesticides sold locally are harmful to the community and the very environment it depends on for its sustenance.
Today, however, Toli’s outlook is brighter due to the Asian Rural Institute (ARI), a 15-acre working farm in northern Japan. Toli is part of ARI’s nine-month training program that educates rural community leaders in sustainable organic agriculture techniques, leadership, and community development. Global Ministries, through One Great Hour of Sharing, provides financial assistance to ARI and this year’s grant is paying for Toli’s studies.
ARI’s philosophy and mission is “to build an environmentally healthy, just, and peaceful world, in which each person can live to his or her fullest potential. This mission is rooted in the love of Jesus Christ.” ARI has trained more than one thousand people since it was founded in 1973, through support from many Christian organizations.
When Toli’s ARI training is finished, she will return home able to help her community grow crops organically, using the resources available in the area while preserving the environment. By sharing her knowledge with others around her and through her church, Toli will be able to touch many lives by helping to
put food in many stomachs.
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Sunday, September 14, 2008 - 11:25 AM
From Prophetic Vision to Sustainable Development: The Mission of the Asian Rural Institute in the 21st Century
Rural leaders' training centre wins Japanese ecumenical prize
Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
25 July 2008
Rural leaders' training centre wins Japanese ecumenical prize
By Hisashi Yukimoto
Tokyo, 25 July (ENI)--A Christian-based training centre for rural leaders
of all faiths and none, who come primarily from Asia, Africa and the Pacific
has received the annual Ecumenical Contribution Award from the Japan
"Though the term 'ecumenical' is a Christian term, we have people who are
not only Christians but also from other faiths," Toshiaki Kusunoki,
secretary general of the prize-winning Asian Rural Institute, told
International after receiving the award on 29 April. "It is good that we
have lived with people from other faiths for 35 years since our establishment.
The appreciation of this is shown by the award."
The institute was the 14th winner of the award. In 2007, the accolade went
to the Rev. Toshitsugu Arai, a Japanese pastor of the United Church of
Christ in Japan, who is also a former staff member of the World Council of
Churches, and one-time acting general secretary of the Christian Conference of
The rural institute can take up to 30 students, who attend nine-month-long
courses in sustainable, organic agriculture techniques, leadership and
The St. Paul's parish of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tokyo
hosted this year's award ceremony, and Japan's weekly newspaper The Christ
Weekly reported that organizers said the institute had received the award
because of its open, Christian-inspired philosophy.
A Japanese Christian leader, Toshihiro Takami, began the Asia Rural
Institute in 1973. From the beginning, its mission has been "to build an
environmentally healthy, just, and peaceful world, in which each
person can live to
his or her fullest potential".
To carry out this mission, the institute, which is based in Nasushiobara, a
rural area north of Tokyo, "trains and nurtures rural leaders for a life of
Christians make up barely one percent of Japan's 127 million people,
although there are many Christian-backed or founded educational institutions in
the north Asian country. [327 words]
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provided ENI is acknowledged as the source.
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posted by Craig D. Rice @ Monday, July 28, 2008 - 4:25 PM
Indianapolis Couple Describes 15-month Stay at ARI
Episcopal Life recently published an article about Meghan and Andy McConnell from Indianapolis who spent 15 months living and working at ARI. They "
waded through rice paddies, cared for various barnyard animals, learned how to make charcoal and lived in community with people from at least 15 different countries."
Meghan comments, "A lot of what we did at ARI felt mundane -- cooking rice, getting up early to do exercises and farm work, sitting at meals together, but it challenged me to put spiritual meaning into those routines and to find a greater goodness in life."
You can read the Full Article
or read more about their experience on Andy and Meghan's web site
Reference: "Changing perspectives: Indianapolis couple learns about faith, chickens and computer ministry in Japan" by Kathryn Tietz Treece, March 25, 2008
posted by Craig D. Rice @ Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 12:14 PM