IASC 2013 Closing Ceremony

John Powell and Chris Short from the CCRI have travelled to Japan for the 14th Global Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons.

Here, John reflects on the week, and the closing ceremony…

Konohana Sakuya Hime, the Goddess of Fuji, misses the closing ceremony but says farewell to those who have briefly visited the commons on her lower slopes

Although the goddess of Fuji had been visible earlier in the week she was completely hidden by a blanket of thick grey cloud which came down almost to the tops of the trees above the Fuji Calm hotel when the closing ceremony of the 14th IASC conference was being held last Friday evening.  Many of the delegates were disappointed that she was not revealing herself at this final event before they left for their homes.

According to Japanese mythology, Konohana Sakuya Hime married a god who grew suspicious when she was found to be pregnant shortly after the wedding.  In order to prove she had not been unfaithful she entered a sacred space in the volcano and stated that if her child was unscathed by the fire it would prove her innocence.  In time she gave birth to a son who was unharmed by the fire.  Much later, during the early 15th century, the belief arose among the people of the region that she would protect them from eruptions of the volcano, just as she had protected her newborn son from the flames.

At the closing ceremony the USA and Japanese co-ordinators handed over a conference banner to Fikret Birkes, who accepted on behalf of the Canadians at the University of Edmonton in Alberta where the next IASC international commons conference will be held in 2015. 


We then got down to enjoying a wide selection of Japanese food, beer and sake.  For some the party continued well into the night in various other locations around the Fujiyoshida area.  For others it was time to start the long journey home catching trains and buses to connect with long-haul flights out of Narita.  For those in the more far-flung parts of the world it was the start of a two or even three day journey. 


Next morning, those few still remaining woke up to a warm and humid day with clouds rapidly boiling up around the mountain.  A walk down to the lakeshore before the interminable bus-train-plane journey was rewarded by glimpses of the summit of Fuji dressed in dazzling white high above the clouds – it was the shy goddess of Fuji saying her goodbyes – then her cloudy veil fell back and, like the conference participants, she was gone.