By Noriya Nagashima / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer Children are said to play outside less often these days. However, that common refrain didn’t concern the uniform-clad children at the Scout Museum in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo. Even inside, they were brimming with energy. “I really like curry cooked on a fire built with firewood,” one said, while another added, “I was excited to see wild rabbits.”
Scouting, which is aimed at developing youth through outdoor camps and other activities, started in Britain in 1907. About 40 million people currently participate in Scout groups in 164 countries and regions worldwide.
The Scout movement began to take off in Japan after Emperor Showa visited Britain in 1921 while he was crown prince. He met with Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the movement, and said, “A spirit of brotherhood among the world’s people will contribute to building world peace.”
This statement led to the establishment of the Scout Association of Japan (SAJ) in 1922, the year after the Emperor’s visit to Britain.
Young people from elementary school students up to the age of 25 can participate in Scout groups, which are divided by age into “Beaver,” “Cub,” “Boy,” “Venture” and “Rover.” If female Scout leaders are present, girls can also join. There are about 110,000 members in Japan, including volunteer leaders.
Many Scout projects are focused on fully enjoying nature, such as building rafts and setting up tents for night sky observation. “I now really like sea fishing,” said a smiling 13-year-old second-year student from a junior high school in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo.
“We’ll jump into action as volunteers in times of disaster, putting our everyday activities to use,” said Isao Kasahara, 73, an employee of the museum.
Members of the SAJ are recorded to have participated in relief efforts just after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which occurred the year after the association was established.
After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, 1,600 members helped clean houses, remove debris and prepare meals at evacuation shelters, among other things, for one year after the disaster occurred.
People taught how to tie ropes, perform flag signaling and cook at camps as children are said to be able to get the most fulfillment from outdoor activities as adults. I envy people with experience in Scout activities.
The Scout Museum
The Scout Museum opened in 2012 to mark the 90th anniversary of the Scout Association of Japan (SAJ). The library has about 3,000 books related to the history of the SAJ and overseas Scout associations. At a shop on the lower level, visitors can buy goods useful for Scout and outdoor activities.
Address: 3rd Fl. of Scout Association of Japan building, 1-34-3 Hongo, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
Open: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Wednesdays, Thursdays, the second Sunday of each month, and the year-end and New Year holiday period