GIAHS in Japan

(Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems)


GIAS has the vision of dynamic conservation of all agricultural heritage systems and their multitude of goods and services, for food and livelihoods security, now and future generations.

GIAHS initiatives promotes public awareness, national and international recognition of Agriculture Heritage Systems. It connects agriculture, forestry, traditions and culture of Forest-utopia.

In 2002 FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) started an initiative for the dynamic conservation of GIAHS to safeguard and support world’s agricultural heritage systems.

In 2016 project of increasing the leverage, 36 areas of the world was certified by GIAHS, eight of which were from Japan.

In the GIAHS conference, in Miyazaki city (on 2nd March, 2016 ) attended by our company Ai-road Inc, it was explained that in these certified areas they encourage the farmers and residence to progress in efforts of branding agricultural products and other people to visit those places, experience regional activities and take advantage of the blessings from the forest.

In 1987, they stablished Takachiho world agriculture heritage promotion council. Later, in 2015 Takachiho town was recognized by GIAHS as an agriculture heritage area and was certified by FAO too.

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Other places like Gokase town and village, Hinokage Town, Morotsuka, and shiiba villages are also certified by FAO. The regions mentioned above, had water problems due to altitude slopes, which was solved by creating mountainside waterway. Those efforts resulted in having 1800 ha of terraced rice fields.

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The conference also discussed traditional cultures of the regions are also connected to agriculture. We can know about precious traditional cultures by visiting Takachiho town and Shiiba village. These traditions include singing “Hietsuki” songs by farmers during collecting the harvest or performing “Kagura” dance to thank for those harvests. These traditional cultures are extremely important as a Japan cultural and spiritual pillar.


Preserving these priceless areas are very important, but the challenge is that people who took care of the farms and mountains in those areas are aging and young people are not willing to do those tasks.

To overcome this obstacle we need to publicize the charms of agriculture and forestry of these regions to the world and promote the development of human resources responsible for the need. All of them will also support regional revitalization.

Now that you know this valuable information, you may want to do something about it, right?

The good news is that Miyazaki Green Tourism Association and Ai-road Company are planning a trip to Usa city, Oita prefecture. It is also one of those valuable regions, which is worthy of a visit to learn about their local life and cultures besides having fun.  For further information you can contact our company, Ai-road Inc.

Email: michikusa26@ybb.ne.jp

Tel: 0985-23-3443


By: Ateffa Jalali 

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Japanese Tempura and Afghani Pakora

You might be wondering why I write so much about Japanese Cuisine.

Well cuisine is one the most important parts of Japan’s culture and the part that matters the most to you when you come here.


Tempura are pieces of highly battered, deep fried seafood and vegetables.

It is a famous dish inside and outside Japan and commonly served as a main dish, side dish or as a topping for rice bowls, Udon, and Soba noodle dishes.

There are different varieties of tempura pieces:

Ebi (Shrimp/ prawn) Tempura

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Sakana (Fish) Tempura

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Nasu (eggplant) Tempura

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Kinoko (mushrooms) Tempura

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Kobacha (Pumpkin) Tempura

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Satsumaimo( sweet potato) Tempura

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Shiso (Perilla) Tempura

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Kakiage Tempura

(A tempura made of a variety of julienned vegetables)

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Tempura is one of my favorite Japanese dishes too. I have tried fish, sweet potato and vegetables tempura as a side dish with soba noodles and rice. We have a similar dish in our country too we call it “pakora”, we make it from potato or a mixture of potato and vegetables, both of which are my favorites.

Potato pakora

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Mixed Potato and vegetables Pakora

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By: Ateffa Jalali

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My Favorite Quotes

Have you ever felt better or stronger reading quotes?

Have they ever solved a problem of yours or helped in taking a decision in life through reading quotes?

My answer would be yes to all, that’s why I love reading quotes and sharing them.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.








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By: Ateffa Jalali

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Nishimera Monitourig Tour

A borderless and memorable trip

Kyusyu Central Mountains Tourism Promotion Council and Ai Road CO., Ltd organized a trip to Nishimera on 13th -14th February.

This trip included participants from travel companies, international students, and local villagers.

Sightseeing train “Den-en Symphony”


This exciting trip started with an amusing ride in a royal Sightseeing train “Den-en Symphony”.

We were amused by visiting interesting places and doing fun things in every stop of the train.

At first stop we rode the mini train then watched the Daimyo show, which was very fascinating. At second one every one rang the lucky bill. Later we stopped for drinking tea, as the weather was rainy it was a perfect time for a hot tea.

Daimo show

Restaurant Tokumaru for lunch


At the last stop, we had delicious lunch at Tokumaru Restaurant. Considering travelers’ need halal food was provided for the Muslim foreign travelers. They were all very grateful for the effort.

Walking around Yunomae Town and Cartoon Museum in Yunomae

After the lunch, we had a brief walk around the beautiful town of Yunomae. We saw many stunning handmade dolls of “Hinamatsuri” or doll festival. We also visited Ryosuke Nasu, political cartoonist’s cartoon exhibition and one of his cartoon movie in which he portrayed politicians in a satirical way after their era was finished.

Ground Cherry Art craft experience in Nishimera


Using the local materials we learned making “Sekobozu” or ground cherry lantern. It wasn’t just an experience, but also a reminder that won’t let us forget the wonderful experiences we tried and memories we made in the trip.

Hot Spring in Nishimera Onsen YUTARTO


A relaxing hot bath is what our tired body wants from us after a long day in the trip! Some travelers enjoyed the destressing and comforting onsen at Yutarto and others enjoyed the wonderful and highly attractive decorations of Doll Festival.



Dinner party with local folks in OGAWA Sakugoya Mura


Later we had a dinner party in Ogawa Sakuoya Mura. The presence of Nishimera folks made the dinner party very special. For most of us it was the first time to do dinner and get to know the kind welcoming villagers of the place we visit. The hospitality and love they showed will always be a strong reason to visit Nishimera again.

After the dinner, we had a friendly and pleasant party in which we found about hidden talents of the participants beyond the border.

Tour Plan Day 2

Breakfast in OGAWA Sakugoya Mura


A gratifying warm welcome to the cold morning breakfast. In the breakfast gathering everyone was more easily socializing with each other taking about the fun memories they made together and waited impatiently for the next enjoyable experiences. Now, it was time to leave the castle that looked like the ones we heard in fairy tale stories. The beauty of its impressive sceneries can hardly be expressed by words!  Seriously, We didn’t want to leave the place!

Bread baking experience at YURARI in Yunomae

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Bread baking was the second motivational and creative experience of the trip. Everyone was putting a great amount of efforts to design the colorful breads better than the other groups, an unintentional competition had arisen. Later, we ate our handmade breads with hot coffee and green tea while interacting and enjoying each other’s company.

Lunch at Stone Built Community House ISHIGURA in Taragi


Before starting the lunch, we got a chance of visiting “Hina Matsuri” dolls decorated with flowing kimono of many layers and  elegant colors on red carpet, and usually arranged in hierarchy starting from the Emperor, Empress and going down through the ranks.

Afterwards, the guide Mr. Go explained the history and culture of the Stone Built community house, Ishigura which was built as a storage warehouse of wheat and rice “showa”. The place is now used as a local exchange facility. It’s worth mentioning that the lunch boxes served there was also delicious.



Sightseeing tour of the Blue 

Train in Taragi


Here comes another train! Yet this one was quiet different than the Sightseeing train “Den-en Symphony”. The Blue Train was used from (Tokyo Kumamoto) until March 2009. We were amazed by the clever usage of accommodation space in this train.

Over all, it was a borderless international trip that give an opportunity to know and respect each other’s cultures. International students were able to visit places they didn’t know much about and couldn’t go there without a travel agent.

All the travelers were happy and delighted learning new skills and experiencing things together. For most of us, night stay at Ogawa Sakugoya Village and sightseeing train was the most memorable parts of the trip and we all wanted to come back and try them with our friends again. It is worth mentioning, that local people were very glad to see outsiders appreciate their village so much.

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Eco tourism

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Ecotourism is a late 20th century newly invented word compounded of eco- and tourism. It focuses on socially responsible travels, personal growth, and environmental sustainability.In other words, ecotourism is the concept of promoting Eco tour or environmentally-friendly tour to minimize negative impact on the natural environment and local culture by balancing conservation and tourism. The primary attractions of ecotourism trips destinations are flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.

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Purposes of Ecotourism in Japan

1: Experiencing local lifestyles, learning about culture and history of a place, and supporting locally based industries.

2: Revitalization of communities is one of the main purposes of ecotourism. In fact, young people are the biggest support of the local workforce. When young people move to the city, there is no one to take care of that community anymore, which results in a community to be either under-populated or endangered with growing aging population and decline of birth rate. The interest and appreciation of visitors from outside can make the youth of that community to realize the value of what they have and that attachment to their communities can be a reason for them to stay and be proud about it.

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3: Promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity by providing jobs to local populations.

4. Offering tourists’ insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciations of our natural habitats.

5. Supporting human rights and democratic movements like: conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity through ecosystem protection.

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6. Reduction of waste in the form of luxury.

7. Environmental, education and cultural exchange between urban habitants and rural communities.

Importance of Ecotourism in Japan

Ecotourism encourages development of local businesses such as Green/ agriculture tourism, Local farm produce delivery, and cultural exchange between communities. Besides, it is the solution to critical problems mentioned below:

1. Under-populated communities are facing challenges like abandoned farms, deforestation, food crises, illegal dumping, plant diseases that occur more easily on abandoned fields.

2. Seventy percent of the land in Japan are mountains, there should be someone to take care of them. Mountains are deteriorating which is leading to the Decline Mountains’ natural ability to store water and absorb carbon-dioxide. This results in disasters such as landslide, flood, and water shortage; affecting both rural and urban areas.

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By: Ateffa Jalali


The international ecotourism society (n.d), Uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel: what is ecotourism? Retrieved from:


Nippon Green Tourism (n.d), Ecotourism Japan, what does it mean to revitalize communities, retrieved from: http://www.ecotourism-center.jp/staticpages/index.php/ecocen01_en

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Nishimera Village

A Verdant and enchanting village

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Do you sometimes wish you could be in a destressing place blessed with seasonal beauties, picturesque bridges over clear rivers, and a great mountainous scenery where you will fail to see a single place which is not covered with growing plants?!

If yes, then you probably want to go to Nishimera Village.  

Nishimera is a village located in Koyu District, Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan. As of 2005, it has estimated population of 1,298, which is less than the number of amazingly beautiful deer that live in there. If these qualities doesn’t drag you towards it, then what will?

In this verdant village traditions are kept alive by practically practicing them. I have visited it many times and learned a lot about ancient Japanese traditions and cuisine like making traditional “mochi” (rice cake) and soba noodles.


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Indeed, Nishimera village has given a lot to inspire its villagers.

It has given the drift woods of its rivers, acorn, chestnut,and  leaves to inspire Ms. Momoko Kuroki for making extra delicate and beautiful origamis and handicrafts.

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Not only that, but it also has given an exceptional nature beauty to be portrayed in Mr. Sadakichi Kuroki’s paintings; as well as abundant and easily available physalis alkekengi (also known as strawberry or ground cherries) to inspire Mr. Keisuke Kuroki for making magical lanterns and lots more.



To sum up, Nishimera village is a nature friendly place surrounded by friendly and social local people offering hospitality and willing to display their talents with full enthusiasm.

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Spring Setsubun 3rd Feburuary

Take a compass before eating the Fortune roll (Ehomaki)


Today is 3rd of February and by the time I entered the office I was amazed by looking at my colleague eating a sushi roll with a big mouth! That was when I got to know today is Setsubun festival!!! She brought tasty sushi rolls for all of us!


 According to legends, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi was fighting for the ruler ship of Japan, one of his samurai, Horio Yoshiharu, ate a rolled sushi on the evening before the battle and they won the battle. Thus, it is believed eating sushi roll brings good luck and drives away demons of Setsubun.

In Ehomaki, which literally means, ‘direction of blessing roll’ seven fillings are traditionally rolled in. The ingredients represent good health, happiness, and prosperity and rolling the fillings means good fortune.


It is usually eaten with eyes closed, in total silence, making a wish, facing the auspicious direction of the New Year, as it changes every year.

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There is also another tradition of putting beans in your plate, then counting the number of your age and eat one bean for each year. Later, you take the remaining beans to the front door and say “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” which means “Demon out, good fortune in!” Then throw them out in the streets.

By: Ateffa Jalali 

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My experience of Making Soba Noodles

Handmade super delicious soba

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Noodles are the most popular and easily available dishes of Japan. There are many types of them; you can find more information through the link below


Soba noodles are noodles made of buckwheat flour, roughly as thick as spaghetti.

There are many types of soba like Mori/Zaru soba, Kake soba, Kitsune soba, Tanuki soba, Tempura soba, Tsukimi soba, Tororo soba, Sansai soba, Nanban soba, etc.

Soba noodles are available in dried form in supermarkets, but freshly made by hand from flour and water taste is just incomparable.

I experienced making soba noodles in a travel tour of Ai-road Company in Nishimera Village. We were making the most basic soba dish, Mori Soba in which boiled cold soba noodles are eaten with a soya based dipping sauce (tsuyu).

Our cook and instructor Mr. Keisuke Kuroki, started by teaching how to make the dough from buckwheat, wheat flour, water, and salt.


After stirring the dough with a wooden stick for around 15 minutes, he kneaded them to form the dough. Next, he shaped it into a rectangular shape and started rolling it.


This one is rolled by me so not the perfect shape but still works. ;) Next, he sprinkled flour onto the counter to prevent sticking and folded the top third part of the dough downward and bottom third part upward.


After folding, he cut the noodles half a centimeter (a quarter of an inch) thick.

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Afterward, we boiled water in a large pot and add salt before dropping the soba and cooked it for two minutes.


Subsequently, he drained them and rinsed them under cool water immediately.


That’s it! Soba noodle was cooked in an easy way and a kind villager of Nishimera had cooked tempura, pieces of highly battered deep fried mixed vegetable, to be used as the topping of soba. Delicious soba is ready!


I had already tried tempura and loved it, but it was my first time to make and eat soba noodles. It was quite interesting.

This is how my Japanese lunch looked like.


I will probably try this special soba noodles at home too with the difference of adding some spices, as I and my husband can’t live without it. :p

By: Ateffa Jalali

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My favorite quotes

Reading quotes always make me inspired and thoughtful. In fact, I love using them both in speech and writing, because they enhance credibility of both and solves a big problem or argument with a single or few sentences.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:




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Share your favorite quotes from the ones mentioned above. 

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Muslims in Miyazaki

A visit by Miyazaki TV


“Different plants thrive together in a well nurtured garden. Just as they thrive, they pass on a message to mankind - God created us all to thrive with one another and planted love in our hearts for this reason. Let's learn to embrace each other, knowing Love is all we have to keep us growing and going.” (Kemi Sogunle)

Number of Muslim residents in Miyazaki Prefecture of Japan is increasing. Currently there are more than 300 Muslims from different countries like Afghanistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Senegal, Mauritania, etc. Most of them have come through scholarships for getting their Masters and Doctors degree.Some of them have also brought their wives’ and children with them.


Miyazaki TV visited Muslim community to know their problems in order to help Miyazaki become a better place for Muslims.Journalists of Miyazaki TV were amazed to see Muslims from different countries being very friendly and sociable with each other like a family.

Most of the Muslim students are living in International house, University of Miyazaki and are very busy to cook their lunch at home and couldn’t find halal lunch boxes. Fortunately, the problem is solved by Ms. Thanaa Maeda who is making halal lunch boxes for students of Miyazaki. I am really thankful and happy because of the efforts of Mrs. Maeda.

(A picture of the exceptionally tasty halal food lunch box she makes)


Moving to other problems, I shared two most common ones Muslims living in Miyazaki have. One of the most common one is finding halal food. Muslims’ diet is governed by Allah’s law. Based on which Muslims can’t eat pork, alcohol, and meat of animals that are not sacrificed by mentioning Allah’s name over them.

That is the reason why some of the daily foods available in Super Markets and other convenient stores are allowed to be consumed by Muslims, because some of them contain alcohol, animal derived ingredients, pork extracts or shortenings, pig oil, gelatin, etc.

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I suggested the solution that Super Markets allocate a specific area for halal food. For example among milk packages, bread, yogurt, cakes etc. the ones that don’t have alcohol, pork or other animal derived materials can be put in halal food area. This will really help Muslim’s living in Miyazaki most of whom don’t know enough Japanese to read the ingredients by themselves and end up not buying that product when not sure of them being halal. 

In Happiness store there is a small area for halal meat, soy sauce etc. that really makes us happy and that’s the place we mostly shop.


Second problem is lack of prayer rooms in public places. Muslims pray five times a day. Morning prayer( Fajr), noon prayer( Dhuhr), afternoon prayer (Asr), evening prayer( Maghrib), and night prayer( Isha).

As three times of prayer are during the day while we are outside our homes and they have a deadline and should be performed in the specific time. We face this problem every day or at least every weekend, which we usually spent shopping in Aoen Mall, Miyaco city and other shopping malls.

Therefore, if possibly there were small rooms available in big shopping malls for prayer, we won’t have to pray outside, in the bus or car.

Though, I really am thankful of the company I work in, Ai-road Inc. that allows me to pray in the meeting room every day! This really shows their respect toward my religion and I heartily appreciate it.

Saying of the problems above doesn’t mean we are having difficulties living in Japan, rather we all are so happy to be living in a country that doesn’t have any prejudice toward our religion and respects it.

All of the Muslims living in Miyazaki including myself, want to be examples of living peacefully together to prove that the picture that media shows of Muslims is not true, we are not terrorists! Our religion doesn’t teach us to be terrorist! It teaches us to be honest, truthful, and kind to everyone.

By: Ateffa Jalali

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