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Conference 2018: Japan

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Exploring the World through our School Grounds

The 2018 International School Grounds Alliance conference took place in beautiful Yokohama, Japan from November 16 - 18, hosted by ISGA Leadership Council members from Japan and attracting hundreds of delegates from around the globe.

The conference convened ISGA members, educators, landscape designers, who explored how learning in school grounds can help children learn about and understand their world.  Twenty-six speakers from eight countries shared their experiences designing, building, and using school grounds for learning and play. Excursions took place to fourteen nearby school grounds and cultural sites, and presentations, discussions, and tours enriched participants’ conference outcomes.

Conference Summary

Friday, November 16th:

The conference kicked off with a series of day-long excursions to local schools in the Kanagawa, Tokyo, and Chiba areas, near Yokohama. Each trip featured several schoolyards with different attributes: forest kindergartens, edible gardens, grasslands for nature play, and even a mountain.
Saturday, November 17th:

The second day of the conference was held at Tsurumi Junior College, and began with two fascinating keynote speakers. Professor Akemi Miyazato, Headteacher of the preschool at Ochanomizu Women’s University in Tokyo, Japan, spoke about the intersection of preschool grounds with creativity, play, and life. Susan Humphries, Founding Headteacher of the famed Coombes School in Arborfield, Reading, England, talked about the impact of school grounds on children’s learning and lives. 

After the keynote speakers' presentations and a visit to Tsurumi Junior College's forested preschool grounds (designed by conference director, Dr. Ko Senda), some conference participants attended an International Symposium on Edible Schoolyards, whilst others select a half-day tour to see local schools (Yokohama's first school biotope) and nearby Soji-ji Temple for a visit to experience Zen meditation. In the evening, a Welcome Dinner of foods with local vegetable specialties from Yokohama completed an extraordinary day.
Sunday, November 18th:

On the final day of the conference, attendees enjoyed an array of short presentations, workshops, and poster sessions—a wonderful opportunity to expand our knowledge of school grounds and how they are being used by schools around the world.  


The conference planning team:


Conference Director:

  • Dr. Ko SENDA (Associate Professor at Tsurumi Junior College)


Conference Assistant Directors:

  • Dr. Keitaro ITO (Professor at Kyushu Institute of Technology)

  • Dr. Norie MIWA (Associate Professor at Yokohama City University)

  • Mr. Hidenori WATANABE (Headteacher of Yuyu-no-mori Kindergarten and Day Nursery)



  • Dr. Mitsuru SENDA (Emeritus Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology)

  • Dr. Isami KINOSHITA (Professor at Chiba University)

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