Nishikawa: Everyone has different interests in environmental issues. The important thing is to feel that you are yourself. At Hokkaido University, where a diverse range of people gather, you're sure to find friends you'll get along well with!


Yuji Nishikawa

Yuji Nishikawa (in Malaysia)

Yuji Nishikawa, a second-year student School of Agriculture, is a member of HSI Team OMOTENASHI, a student group officially recognized by Hokkaido University's global program HSI (Hokkaido Summer Institute). How did you become interested in environmental issues? What kind of activities do you do? We asked them about the message they would like to send to high school students.

Greta's speech and the issue of microplastics

Mr. Nishikawa is passionate about student-led SDGs activities, and in August 2022, he also served as a lecturer at "Children's SDGs University." When did you become interested in social and environmental issues?

Nishikawa: Since I was little, I loved nature and was very curious. I wasn't bad at studying, but when I entered high school, I started to hate the exam-biased classes, so I went to study abroad in China, my mother's home country, for a year.
The teacher there was very friendly and the students raised their hands during class, which was a really nice atmosphere, but one time, when I was playing table tennis with my classmates, I got the upper hand and they teased me by bringing up past wars. there was. They didn't mean any harm, they just said it casually based on what they had learned about the Sino-Japanese War and the Japanese military in class. I think it was a joke.

But at that time, I didn't know what to say in response. At that time, I finally realized the significance of studying, or rather, I changed my mind to wanting to work hard to solve social problems, including those between countries.

Among social issues, I became particularly interested in environmental issues when I was in my second year of high school after returning to Japan, when I saw on the news that environmental activist Greta Thunberg gave a speech at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. This had a huge impact.
Around the same time, a professor who was researching marine microplastics came to give a lecture at my school, and when I heard about the environmental problems that were happening right now, I realized, ``This is dangerous. It's a threat to humanity's survival.''

That's it. Participating in the Student Climate Crisis Summit, forming a group with friends to organize a "climate march" through the city, and sending a video message to major banks asking them to stop investing in coal. I even sent it.

What did you learn after actually starting the activity?

Nishikawa: I learned that there are many pessimistic people in the world who cannot seriously believe that society and the world will change (lol). I was also influenced by this, and at one point I was on the verge of giving up, thinking, ``Is there any point in this activity?'' But in the end, if you do it, a certain number of people will take an interest in it.
At school, we created an ``eco group'' within the geology department, and we conducted environmental awareness surveys within the school and posted them in the newspaper.

Mr. Nishikawa, who was living in Chiba Prefecture, what made you decide to go to Hokkaido University?

Even if you want to solve environmental problems, you don't know where to start. However, at Hokkaido University, you can take the ``general entrance examination for science,'' and students study a wide range of science fields for one year after admission, and then move on to the undergraduate program in their second year.
In other words, you have one year to solidify your interests and goals. That was really appealing. Also, one of my motivations for taking the exam was because I admired the nature of Hokkaido.

I decided to study School of Agriculture because of the dairy farm internship I did during my first year as an undergraduate. Since I came to Hokkaido, I wanted to do something typical of Hokkaido, so I lived and worked at a dairy farm in eastern Hokkaido for about a week.At that time, I saw a cow tied to a cowshed all day long and thought, ``I want to do something uniquely Hokkaido.'' There was a huge gap between my image and what I had thought.
My desire to somehow free these cows and my interest in cultured meat (meat made by artificially culturing animal cells), which was a hot topic at the time, coincided, and I decided to pursue a career in animal husbandry in School of Agriculture of Agriculture. I went on to study science.
Some people may be a little hesitant when they hear the word "cultured meat," but the truth is that there is a problem with methane gas emitted from cow burps, which is one of the causes of global warming, and the gap between the feed eaten by livestock and the food eaten by humans. Cultured meat is said to be the answer to the competition problems that are occurring in Japan, and research is currently progressing around the world.
Research on cultured meat and milk has not yet progressed to the point where we can eat cultured meat and milk, but until someday I can commercialize it myself, I'm trying to avoid eating real beef and milk as much as possible.

dairy farm intern

Working as a dairy farmer requires physical strength every day from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. The key is to eat like a cow and sleep like a cow to let your body recover.

“Children’s SDGs University” explains cow meals and “poo”

How did you join HSI Team OMOTENASHI, a student organization that interacts with international students?

Nishikawa: When I was in my first year, I was a participant in the event, but in my second year, the leader, Kawate, asked me if I wanted to work with him as a staff member.
Our main activity was to hold an online chat session with summer school participants, Hokkaido University students, and international students. As new cultural exchange events in 2022, we also held an ensemble concert in collaboration with the Hokkaido University Orchestra and "ORIORIGAMIGAMI" where you can enjoy origami. I was in charge of this origami event.

The "HSI SDGs Challenge Competition 2022" held in October 2022 is an event that solicits ideas from students that focus on number 12 of the 17 SDGs, "Responsible Production and Responsible Consumption." Six teams, both individuals and groups, participated.
This is a personal reflection, but competitions have a strong image of being rigid, and some people may have found it difficult to participate. For example, I wanted to come up with colors that would allow people to have a little more fun and participate in things like, ``How will we use the acrylic boards we used during the coronavirus pandemic in the future?''
We would welcome an increase in manpower, so if you are interested in becoming a member of OMOTENASHI's staff, please feel free to contact us at any time!

HSI Team OMOTENASHI is said to be very reliable when companies come to us and say, ``We would like to work with Hokkaido University students on some kind of SDGs activity.'' At the Hokkaido University x HBC ``Children's SDGS University'' - Connections of Life'' held in August 2022, the poster exhibition created by Mr. Nishikawa and three other students from the livestock class was very popular. What did you do?

Nishikawa: Since the theme was the connection between food and "poo," the first poster explained how a cow's body "eats grass and makes milk," which humans cannot do, and the second poster presented the benefits of cows and the disadvantages such as methane gas emissions. In the third photo, we introduced the grazing livestock farming that is currently being carried out on the campus farm, and finally explained the biodegradation process of cow dung and the nitrogen cycle with photos.
At first, I wanted to exhibit the feces themselves, but that was rejected (lol). Instead, we brought in grass and feed that dairy cows normally eat, and let them feel the smell and feel of it. We also prepared 1 kg of real beef and 11 kg of concentrate feed (grain feed given to cows) because we wanted the children to experience the research data that says, ``It takes 11 kg of grain feed to produce 1 kg of beef.'' I received it.

It was a lot of fun, with the children participating actively raising their hands and some of them knowing more about animals than us. The thing that made me the happiest was one child who said to me, ``I want to enter Hokkaido University and study animals too!'' and I'm glad I worked hard to prepare.

I'm sure it's tough because you have regular classes, but what is the driving force behind your activities?

Nishikawa: Basically, I think, ``If there's something you want to do, you should do it whether you're a high school student or a university student.'' I'm motivated by the feeling that ``I want to do that, and this looks interesting,'' but more than that, I'm motivated by the feeling that ``If I don't do something that I can only do now, I'll regret it later.'' It means let's do what we can now.

Please also write an example explanation that matches the photo) Poster exhibited at "Children's SDGS University". □□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□

Cows have bodies specialized for digesting grass. They are characterized by rumination, rumen fermentation, and multiple stomachs. (The poster was created by my classmate Watabe-kun)

With diverse colleagues, value “yourself”

How do you see your career path going forward?

Nishikawa: I have a sweet tooth, so my dream for the future is to make cream puffs using cultured milk. To achieve this, I would like to attend graduate school in the United States, where research on cultured meat and milk is progressing.
I haven't thought about what's next yet; I'll either work locally or start a company in Japan. I also like teaching, so I might consider a career in teaching.

I think that when you are involved in activities related to environmental issues, you come into contact with many adults. Do you feel anything?

Nishikawa: Now that I'm a university student, I feel like I have more responsibility than when I was a high school student, and there are more and more things that I can't accomplish without the permission of an adult. Of course, as you become an adult, there are many things you have to protect, and your thinking becomes more focused on ``how to accomplish it'' than ``what to do.'' It is said that Japanese people in particular have a strong tendency to ``what will I do if something happens?'' syndrome.
However, I started to think that if you always think based on reality, your ideas and possibilities will never expand beyond reality.

On the other hand, I think that the large scale of Hokkaido University is one of the reasons why it has become easier for me to pursue my own activities as a university student. Because people of all kinds of diversity come together, it's easier to gather friends and members who agree with what you want to do.

Lastly, please give a message to high school students.

Nishikawa: The most important thing for me is to be myself no matter where I am. I was like that when I was in high school, and I feel like there are a lot of people who care too much about their surroundings. There are a lot of people at university, so it's only natural that there will be people whose opinions differ from yours, and on the other hand, you're sure to meet friends who you really get along with.
I don't think I would be where I am today if I hadn't taken Hokkaido University's ``Science Science'' general entrance exam and experienced a dairy farm internship in my first year. I hope you all enjoy your university life in Hokkaido, thinking that you are who you are!

Cycling from Sapporo to Mt. Yotei. I highly recommend that smart people go by car.

profile photo

Yuji Nishikawa Mr. Miss.

Affiliation: 2nd year, Department of Animal Science School of Agriculture Hokkaido University

He started working on environmental activities after learning about Greta and the microplastic problem during his second year of high school. At Hokkaido University, he is a member of the student organization HSI Team OMOTENASHI. He also served as a lecturer at "Children's SDGs University".