Document Text (Pages 121-130) Back to Document

Community Capacity and Governance – New Approaches to Development and Evaluation

by Banyai, Cindy Lyn, PhD

Page 121

In 2001, the Ichiiko Company opened their winery in Ajimu and they consider it important
for consumers and producers to see one another. This vision spawned the concept of the
“winery in the forest for one hundred years” (Kokusha, 2004), which is the manifestation of the
company’s vision and collaboration with the local consumers and producers. Ichiiko wanted to
create a rustic winery that connects the agricultural producers, wine producers, and customers in
a pleasant atmosphere, perhaps lasting as long as one hundred years. This clearly demonstrates
the long term commitment that this private enterprise has to their vision within the community in

Ichiiko confirmed their vision through commitments to involve the local community in their business. The

winery uses only ingredients from Ajimu in production. This agreement was established through
collaboration with the local agricultural cooperative to produce the necessary grapes, which are guaranteed

to be purchased at a set price. The collaboration ensures that the winery directly benefits local grape
producers. The company often meets with the local producers to discuss the types of grapes that the
company desires and the time that they would like them to be produced, and about the use of chemicals
(Nakao, 2008).

The grounds of the winery are designed to also be appealing

to tourists and people from the local community for consumption, education, and relaxation. Ichiiko would
like to help establish a culture of wine in Ajimu and offers opportunities for people to learn about wines and

winemaking at their facilities. Local school children even go for hikes through the grounds to study about
nature and agriculture (Kokusha, 2004). The shop on the winery grounds features other products that are
made in Ajimu, such as packaged sweets and teas, and the restaurant serves dishes made with local products
according to local recipes, such as turtle soup.

It can be seen clearly that there is a commitment of the company to the community and there
is reciprocal involvement and respect to the community as an income generating conduit and
contributor to preserving the local environmental atmosphere, production and activities. Ichiiko,
as a private business, recognizes that they are a stakeholder in the community and they have
taken responsibility to enact their business plan with the idea of commitment and interconnectedness
with the community in Ajimu.


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Table - A-A-A description of Ajimu

Attributes Agents Actions

Sense of

vision (1970’s): to become a
successful wine producing district

new vision (from 2000): to create an
area for Green Tourism through
joining production, local agriculture,
and nature, vision of winery: “winery
in the forest for 100 years”

Commitment Ajimu Winery commits to use local
products and preserve nature,
connect with schools and local grape
farmers and producers

Objectives establish wine culture

preserve nature

Resources landscape

increase income of local producers

Pilot Project

Winery -






used for

and sale of
goods at



traditional products and foods

networks with private business

Source: Author

Following the same style from Table 2, Table 3 describes the A-A-A at work in Ajimu. The
focus of the Ajimu case is the high level of commitment there, most notably from the winery and
grape farmers. All of the attributes play a role in the development of the area, as well as share an
inter-related role with one another. It can be said that the vision shared by the community in the
1970s initially inspired the commitment of the local farmers, then later the Ichiiko Company
collaborated with the farmers and the local community to achieve even more than just the
production of wine, the establishment of the winery and the further ambition of green tourism.

2.2.3. Yufuin’s Objective Setting

Commitment falls short of producing overall community capacity if it fails to result in action.
Communities must be able to come together to produce functions that benefit its members both
economically and socially. The ability of a community (through individuals, organizations, or
networks) to identify issues and desires and devise strategies to address them is an important
aspect of a community (Miyoshi, 2006). The ability to solve problems and attain goals is the


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visible manifestation of a community’s capacity, as well as the basic purpose of coming together
as a community.

Communities are organized around needs, and people join together to form communities in
which their needs can be met. This is done so that people can solve their problems and meet
their needs through the alternatives and resources that they gain by forming a community
(McMillan & George, 1986, p. 16). Coming together to share common goals and make plans to
achieve them is known as collective efficacy and is a component of social capital (Boyd, Hayes,
Wilson, & Bearsly-Smith, 2006, p. 190). The basic idea of forming a community around needs
and ideals accentuates the relationship of sense of community to setting and achieving objectives
and recognizing and accessing resources.

A good example of a community setting and achieving objectives can be seen through the
development of Yufuin as a spa and mountain recreation area. The vision of establishing Yufuin
as a hot spring resort area, which is consistent with both environmental preservation and
promotion and economic development, dates back to October 11, 1924. In 1924, an inspirational
forestry professor and natural designer, Dr. Seiroku Honda, gave a lecture in Yufuin to advise the
people on practical methods and suggestions of how to pursue their common vision of having a
town that is a good place to live and a good place to visit for vacation and relaxation (Shide,
2006, p. 3).

Dr. Honda preached self reliance, and the importance of a natural environment and human
interaction with it, sunshine, and safe and fresh produce (Shide, 2006, p. 7). He used examples
from his experience in Germany to support his claims and made specific suggestions on how the
people in Yufuin could achieve their dream. Dr. Honda noted that the environment should be
preserved and new trees and plants should be added, the whole area should be considered and
conserved, and care should be taken in designing walkways to preserve natural beauty. Dr.
Honda also recognized a need for a preliminary study of the geography, history and economics
of the area, as well as the identification of various other natural resources that the people can use
to enhance their own lives and bring in tourists. Furthermore, Dr. Honda urged the people to
formulate a transportation policy to make the town facilities accessible for locals and tourists,
preserve the environment surrounding and the restoration of Kinrinko Lake, to heed his
suggestions on where to build and utilize hot spring resources, botanical parks, zoos,
playgrounds, and wildlife preserves. He advocated for the establishment of a public hall for
community learning and special events, such as a music festival, and other public facilities such
as toilets, benches, waste bins, signs, the preservation of traditional architecture and landscapes,
the production of tourist maps, and the development of local specialty products (Shide, 2006).

All of the suggestions put forth by Dr. Honda helped to guide the people of Yufuin to set
objectives and achieve outcomes consistent with their collective vision. It should be noted that
bringing in outside experts is a valuable way to help consolidate and validate the vision of a
community. This lecture occurred very early in the development of Yufuin, but it helped to lay
the groundwork for the future achievements of the community in Yufuin. The local people were
also inspired to learn more and subsequently many young people from Yufuin did study tours to
Germany. Many of these young people went on to become leaders within the community; as can
be seen in the case of the senior members of the Yufuin Tourist Association, Mr. Mizoguchi and
Mr. Kentaro Nakaya, both of whom went on study tours in Germany (Yoneda, 2008).

In order to fulfill the vision of the community, it was necessary for many community agents
to be involved. The people of Yufuin had to not only subscribe to their vision and be committed
to it, but then access their resources to produce the actions necessary to make progress on their


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objectives. One of the primary community agents in Yufuin is the Yufuin Tourist Association,
which is a group consisting of business people in the tourism industry there, both young and old
(Yufuin Kanko Shinbum, August 2007). The example of the Yufuin Tourist Association is
unique in Japan in that it is an independent organization that receives some funding from the
local government. Typically in Japan, tourism promotion is undertaken by the public sector
(Yoneda, 2008). This makes the case of Yufuin a good example of participation to set and
achieve objectives based on the sense of community in the area, because they not only rely on
the administration to establish and perform community actions, rather there is collaboration and
participation of multiple community entities to achieve the community vision.

There are many activities that the Yufuin Tourist Association is involved in. The Association promotes
tourism in Yufuin, organizes meetings to address current issues and set further objectives, coordinates studies

to promote the atmosphere and commerce in Yufuin, monitors the compliance with environmental and
atmospheric stipulations, assists in maintaining the environment, discusses and evaluates local activities,
coordinates community events, operates the horse driven cart for tourists, and liaises with and disseminates
information to the broader community (Yoneda, 2008). These activities help to consolidate the vision of the
community and facilitate the setting of objectives to meet the ends of the community.

Although a specific timeline on the achievements in accordance

with the community vision since 1924 would be impossible to articulate here, from observations I have made,
it can be seen that much progress has been made in respects to commercial development and environmental

preservation in Yufuin. There are many walking paths around the town, the inns are quaint, and the

surrounding atmosphere is natural. Kinrinko Lake is a popular place for tourists and local people to go to
enjoy the beauty of the town and there are several hot springs resorts and cafes along the way, most of which

are consistent with the concept of preserving the natural environment and traditional architecture. The
primary commercial center near the train station is bustling with tourists, full of shops selling local
handicrafts and delicacies, the horse and cart and the traditional rikshaw are available for tourists to enjoy,
and most of the shops attempt to comply with the concept of natural and cultural preservations. There is a
glaring exception to this with the presence of a gaudy pachinko parlor, purportedly operated by an outside
entity, in the main commercial district in Yufuin. Mr. Yoneda noted that the Yufuin Tourist Association has
been trying to come up with proactive solutions to this perceived problem, which can be considered another
sign that the community has the ability to set objectives.

Many of the suggestions outlined by Dr. Honda have been adopted and undertaken by the
community in Yufuin. Additionally, through commitment to their shared vision of a nice place
to live and a natural and relaxing tourist destination, the community in Yufuin, as demonstrated
here through the activities of the Yufuin Tourist Association, has been able to effectively set and
achieved their desired objectives from simple transformation to a desirable tourist spot to an
environmentally and culturally aware commercial center.


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Table - A-A-A description of Yufuin

Attributes Agents Actions

Sense of

vision to establish
a hot spring resort

“a good place to
live and place that
people would want
to visit”

Commitment Yufuin Tourist
Association took
over many public
sector activities to
promote vision and
achieve objectives
Objectives environmental



Resources many natural
resources pointed
out by Dr. Honda:
nature, hot springs,
architecture, local
traditional products

Dr. Seiroku



Mr. Nakaya

Yufuin local

Study tours to Germany

Plant trees and plants

Transportation Policy

Design of walkways

Restoration of Kinrinko Lake

Built botanical parks and
wildlife preserves

Built public hall

Established music festival

Public facilities – toilets,
waste bins, signs

Preservation of traditional
architecture and landscape

Production of tourist maps

Local specialty products


Source: Author

Similar to Tables 2 and 3, Table 4 highlights the specifics of community capacity in Yufuin.
Yufuin was particularly successful at setting and achieving their objectives, therefore the actions
column is noticeably long. Furthermore, it should also be pointed out that the primary stimulus
for the active objective setting was the consolidation of the commitment to the community
vision. Without the guiding principles of the preservation of the natural and traditional
atmosphere in accordance with the development of tourist destination successful attainment of
objectives, prosperity, and the notoriety of Yufuin as a resort would have not been possible; thus,


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reinforcing the importance of the community capacity attributes and their relationship with
community outcomes.

2.2.4. Recognizing the Resources of Bungotakada

Another component of community capacity is a community’s ability to recognize and access
resources. Resources of a community can include economic, human, physical, and political
resources (Chaskin et al., 2001, p. 16). The ability for a community to identify and utilize
resources is of vital importance for community defined success, as adequate resources are what
generally separate people from a low and a high quality of life and leave people in poverty
(Quibria, 1993, p. 5). Furthermore, in terms of poverty reduction, it is necessary for a
community to identify and utilize its own local resources in order to grow accordingly. Jean-
Pierre Cling (2002) notes that “pro-poor growth aimed directly at reducing poverty …must use
the factors of production that they possess (p. 36).” In other words, the utilization of local
resources is necessary for improving the lives of people, noting that the scale of poverty that
Cling is referring to is not limited to only economic poverty. The identification, access, and use
of local resources become particularly poignant in addressing holistic community development
through the scope of community capacity.

The case of Bungotakada demonstrates how even forgotten and

under-utilized resources can bring fulfillment and prosperity to a community through the revitalization of the
commercial district and creation of a Showa-era village. Bungotakada is a sleepy rural town of 25,000 in Oita
Prefecture and after several years of economic slowdown, due in part to urban migration and the suspension

of regular train service to the town, resolved in the early 1990s to do something to revitalize their dying
commercial district.

The municipal administration along with the Bungotakada Commerce and Industry Association spent nearly
eight years researching possible avenues for their revitalization. Two major outcomes of the research period
in Bungotakada were the proposal for a large scale commercial overhaul, proposed by an external consulting

firm, and a book entitled Street Stories of Bungotakada City produced by the Commerce and Industry
Association. Through the research for the book, the resources of the town were explored and it was noticed

that the community was very active in the 1960s. After rejecting the proposal of the consulting firm to
completely overhaul the commercial area, citing the high cost and loss of local personality, a municipal
project was launched in 1997 to study reviving the existing commercial area and the idea of creating a “retro
modern town” was born (Yasuda, 2008).

Bungotakada recognized a very valuable resource at their disposal by recognizing the
uniqueness of the era in which their buildings were built. In fact, 70% of the buildings were built
prior to 1955 (Yasuda, 2008). Whereas many people may have considered old buildings to be a


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challenge, the thinking in Bungotakada was that by restoring these storefronts to the way that
they looked in the 1960s (the height of the Showa era) a unique identity and atmosphere would
be created in the shopping district, thus bringing in more customers and tourists. Further study
about the unique aspects of the Showa era was conducted; spanning about one year and included
study tours to other areas trying to recreate the same era. They then spent another year
developing the strategies and planning their revitalization. The ginza3 of Bungotakada’s Showa
Town was opened in 2001 (Yasuda, 2008). Innovation and cooperation inspired by recognizing
the resources that the community already had led to the revitalization of the area by utilizing
those resources.

The vision of creating the retro modern town also encouraged other community members in
Bungotakada to recognize and utilize other resources within the community. For instance, the
extensive collection of penny candy store toys by Mr. Hironobu Komiya was considered and
subsequently interned at a museum in the city, which opened in 2005. Mr. Komiya’s collection
is now proudly displayed and is a tourist attraction in Bungotakada.

The museum complex also houses a children’s story book museum, which accesses the
talents of local authors and artists, a café, and has a model of a Showa era home and school
room. The school room is also used for community meetings, presentations, and other
community activities.

Elderly residents serve as tour guides through the Showa Town and the

museums (Yasuda, 2008). The stories, wisdom, and experience of the elderly members of Bungotakada are
accessed to assist tourists and to truly bring the Show era to life in the city. The inclusion of the talents of the
seniors in this way helps to instill a sense of pride and value in them and within the community, and ensures
that their resources and contributions are preserved and utilized. The museums definitely bring a sense of
pride to the community by displaying the way of life in the community in the 1960s and using some of the
items from the community members, in addition to its economic function.

In order to successfully revitalize Bungotakada, external resources were accessed as well.
Political resources were summoned to obtain prefectural subsidies to support the retro
modernization of the commercial district (Yasuda, 2008). Network resources were used to
obtain information about creating a Showa Town, which can be seen through the study tours
before the revitalization project commenced. The skills and entrepreneurial nature of the local


A g i n z a i s a t r a d i t i o n a l s h opp i n g d i s t r i c t i n J a p a n .


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people are also being used as resources to fuel the revitalization effort. Locally made products
from the Showa era are showcased, such as the ice candy delivered by bicycle and the production
of traditional wooden shoes known as geta. The revitalization effort has also inspired new
products to be created and sold along side the traditional ones, such as paintings, handicrafts, and
uzu juice (Yasuda, 2008).

The recognition of latent resources within a community is a contributor to development that
is often overlooked. The case of Bungotakada shows how existing resources and ingenuity can
combine to facilitate rural development. Not only did the revitalization of the commercial
district and the creation of the retro modern Showa Town bring a renewed economic vitality to
Bungotakada, but it also contributed to the development of community capacity there. By
identifying the local resources and creating a vision to which people in the community could
adhere to, commitment of the people was increased by stimulating them to take active interest as
stakeholders to change the privately owned stores to be consistent with the Showa Town vision.
This commitment by some encouraged others, particularly in terms of reconstructing the shop
fronts which had to be undertaken by the individual shop owner, and produced even more results
in terms of creating the Showa Town.

The sense of community was changed from a sense of despair to one of hope and the vision
of the retro modern town (Yasuda, 2008) after the resources were recognized and objectives
were set into action. The synergy of the new sense of community and the commitment lead to an
increase in community actions, which can be seen in the success of the first ginza and the plans
for expansion to include a second ginza.

Furthermore, the case of Bungotakada serves to demonstrate the cyclical nature of
community capacity, which can be seen in the A-A-A cycle. The intervention strategy helped to
create a vision (revitalization through the retro modern town), which in turn, fostered the
development of the other community capacity attributes (commitment of shop owners,
commercial plans, the use of Showa era items), then produced community actions (the creation
of Showa town), that in turn inspire the growth of the community capacity attributes (stronger
commitment to and participation in the concept of Showa town) to produce more sophisticated
community actions (the museums and the second ginza).

Table - A-A-A description of Bungotakada

Attributes Agents Actions

Sense of

Vision of creating Showa
Town - feeling in
community changed from
despair to hope after
creation of vision

Commitment Store owners endured cost
of changing store fronts to
be consistent with Show
era look – inspired hold
out shop owners to
upgrade as well

Commerce and

Mr. Hironobu

Oita Prefectural

Study Tours to
other Showa

development and

Refurbishment of


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Objectives Commercial area

revitalization study and

Resources Showa era buildings

Items from Showa era

Skills and memories to
recreate Showa era village

Elderly people

Government subsidies

Bungotakada local

Shop owners

Political networks

Creation of Show
era shopping

Construction of

Revitalization of
Showa era
products – geta,
ice candy

Creation of new
local specialties –
handcrafts, uzu

Expansion to
second ginza

Source: Author

Table 5 describes the basic attributes and agents that contributed to the actions for the resurgence
of Bungotakada. The most notable attribute in this case is the ability to recognize and use the
resources available in the community. This contributes further the development of the sense of
community and community capacity, as well as economic growth.

2.2.5. Community Capacity and Rural Development

According to McMillan and George (1986) “strong communities are those that offer
members positive ways to interact, important events to share and ways to resolve them properly,
opportunities to honor members, opportunities to invest in the community, and opportunities to
experience a spiritual bond among members (p. 14)." From this, it can be seen that the strength
of communities can then be described through identifying the attributes of community capacity.
Therefore, rural development can be best undertaken by understanding the importance of
community capacity and then building strategies for development or revitalization through
consideration of the attributes.

Poverty is a common concern among rural communities. However, many strategies for
poverty alleviation parse up impoverished people into aggregate groups defined by needs (Cling,
2002, p. 34). This strategy may not be as effective in curbing rising poverty rates as a holistic
approach, including considerations for community capacity and governance, based on the
community. Cling (2002) notes that “…[decisions] must be made on the level of village groups,
associations of producers, rural communities, urban cooperatives, all of which groups,
incidentally, do not only include poor people but also have their own elites (p. 35).” Thus, there
is a need to define the community and its stakeholders, not just beneficiaries, to address issues


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within an area in a holistic way in order to better formulate policies that will make a positive
impact on the lives of people, particularly in terms of poverty reduction.

Poverty reduction strategies should not be created in a vacuum from the top-down, but rather
be a component of proactive and participatory rural development enacted within the community.
It is for this reason, that community capacity, which attempts to describe, incorporate, and
promote social and economic activities in a community and their stakeholders, is significant in
relation to rural development.

The preceding cases attempt to highlight each of the attributes of community capacity, as
well as the function of the A-A-A cycle of community capacity, through the various rural
development and revitalization efforts of some communities in rural Japan. The successful
endeavors of agriculture and green tourism in Imori-dani demonstrate the role of sense of
community in rural development planning. The commitment of the Ajimu Winery to the
community in Ajimu shows how private businesses can investment themselves as stakeholders
within a community. The development of Yufuin into a popular hot springs resort town displays
how the ability to set and achieve objectives promotes not only economic growth, but instills
faith in the sense of community and perpetuates other attributes. And the retro modern Showa
Town in Bungotakada clearly depicts how overlooked resources can be accessed and converted
into income and community capacity generating tools. This goes to show that the concept of
community capacity can be applied in many circumstances. Additionally, not all attributes need
to necessarily be strong in order to progress the A-A-A cycle. Table 6 highlights the unique
aspects of each case presented here.

Table - Japanese rural revitalization cases summary

Attributes Agents Action




Sense of Community - “create a
village where anyone would want
to live”

Commitment – Ichiiko Company,
framers, and residents commit to
make a scenic wine producing area
and tourist location

Objectives – Create natural hot
springs resort, preserve local
environment for tourists and
Civil society –
Matsumoto Farming

Private business -
Ajimu Winery/Ichiiko

Civil society/Publicprivate
partnership -
Yufuin Tourist
production and
green tourism

Wine production
and winery

Creation of
thriving, relaxing


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