At the end of an old woodland path, there is a wooden gate which opens to a monument representing “Futo Fukutsu” (meaning: indomitable spirit). The Onoda Shizen Juku is surrounded by the fullness of nature in the mountains of Fukushima Prefecture. Twenty years ago, he leased this part of the national forest, after refusing a number of offers for private properties by philanthropists from various other places, and opened the school on his own account. Physically confronting nature, young students experience camping life with members from all generations. They acquire toughness through developing their own instinct and obtaining the power of nature. In recent years, Onoda began visiting schools as well. He vigorously repeated visiting 18 locations in 2009 and 19 locations in 2010. He has been requested to lecture to many students, from an elementary school class with 42 pupils through high school and college auditoriums with audiences of more than 1,000. He gently told his students that based on his own experiences no one can live alone. Then he continued – you can live only where you have people and society, and the trusted ties with them. The key to his health, according to him, was to be headstrong – that means following the natural inner-body voices. He kept moving forward with his wife, Machie, best comrade-in-arms, who underwent hardships with him during a difficult period in Brazil.

Hiroo Onoda

Born in Wakayama Prefecture in 1922. Joined the Wakayama No. 61 infantry regiment in 1942. After graduating reserve officers’ cadet school, he was trained as an intelligence officer at Nakano School, and sent to the Philippines. For the next 30 years, he was never ordered to clear the strategy and continued carrying out his mission. Returned alive to Japan in 1974. The following year, he went to Brazil and began developing pastureland. In 1984, he launched the Onoda Shizen Juku. Died of heart failure on 16 January 2014, at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo.
Cooperation: Hanawa-machi Seishonen Ikusei Chomin Kaigi, Hiroshima Junior Chamber International Japan

This article originally appeared in “Shinsei” magazine, November 2011 issue, published by RINRI Institute of Ethics. Partially rewritten to update for this internet release.

In 2013, he finally started his own Noguchi Brewery.

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)