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Love and serious commitment are key to preserving the countryside

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I was recently presented with an illustrated reference book titled "Mitsukeyo Shizen no Nakama--Narayama no Konchu to Shokubutsu tachi" (Let's find friends in nature--Narayama's insects and plants).

The book was a gift from a rural landscape conservation organization based in Nara. Every chapter overflows with images of the rich nature found in the hilly Narayama region.

I was so captivated by the striking photos, taken over a decade, that I decided to visit the area.

The scenery that unfolded before my eyes was just as I had imagined from the book--lovingly tended rice paddies and crop fields, a biotope, an apiary, and so on.

I was surprised to learn that the average age of the members of the organization is 72. Their........

© The Asahi Shimbun