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Regarding the story “Country life holds growing appeal for young people” in the Jan. 4 edition, the author has described an extraordinary community. It’s an incredible story, especially that of a Tokyo University graduate who bravely took the less-trodden path by giving up an offer of an advertising job. The article made me want to visit such a community and interact with the people to learn more about them.

Local people in rural Japan are warm and friendly, as I discovered when I lived in picturesque Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture. The 80-year-old elderly lady who sold her farm produce at her small shop and often added a few vegetables for free (not to mention the friendly banter), the shy junior high students who talked to me at the bus stop, the people at the International Exchange Association who offered me tea and asked about my well-being every time I visited; the memories are aplenty.

Kenji Miyazawa, an author I admire so much, would have been delighted to see such a farming settlement. He was one of the pioneers who taught us about the importance of farming communities, and that of caring for the environment and our fellow human beings. He would have definitely tried to help them as much as he could. I’m sure his soul is showering blessings on the Iketani settlers in Niigata Prefecture. May they and others like them go from strength to strength.

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