Third year students (8-9 years of age) at a local elementary school have collaborated with a local supermarket in order to develop the “Hikari Geo Bento” a bento-style boxed lunch with a Geopark theme.
The third year students of Itoigawa Higashi Elementary School designed the lunch box as part of their school’s Geopark Studies curriculum. The goal of the project was to learn more about the wealth and variety of foods produced in the Itoigawa Geopark. Through their collaboration with a local supermarket, the students were able to see their bentos actually prepared and sold.
The bentos featured locally produced ingredients, researched by the students. The first bento produced featured locally harvested koshihikari rice and pickled ume, fried chicken made using Itoigawa’s “Midori” chicken brand, locally caught salmon cooked in miso handmade by the children, locally grown eggs flavored with locally made mayonnaise, and a stir fry of shiitake and cloud ear mushrooms, produced by the Yakeyama Shiitake Farm near the base of Mt. Yakeyama, an active volcano which forms an important part of the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark.
The second bento was given the name “Gochiso Bento.” This bento also featured a number of locally produced foods, including chicken, shiitake mushrooms, “Namban” shrimp, and “Uekari” oranges. However, the centerpiece of this bento was bamboo rice with seaweed, layered to resemble the sandstone-mudstone alternating strata prevalent throughout Itoigawa’s Tsutsuishi-Hamatokuai Geosite, which the students had visited on a school field trip. The bento’s name is a play on words: In Japanese the word ‘gochiso’ means feast, but can also be read to mean ‘geological strata’.
This is an excellent example of the important and fairly unique role educational programs play in the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark. By cooperating with the local Board of Education to implement a Geopark Studies curriculum, children can learn firsthand in both school and at home about their Geopark and how the land around them shapes their lives and their livelihoods.
At the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark, we heartily encourage and support projects like this, which link education with real-life applications in a way that is consistent with Geopark values. We look forward to more innovative applications of the Geopark Studies curriculum in the years to come!
Source: Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark, Japan.