Mitsuteru Kojima

Mitsu’s path to Earth Sea Sky’s door started when, aged 15, he gave his parents an ultimatum. This was: he wanted to leave Japan to finish his schooling in New Zealand but if they wouldn’t agree he would leave school and become a fisherman.

His parents agreed. They would support him financially but everything else was over to him.

To find organisations to help him he often had to travel to Tokyo. The meant a 4-hour return train trip from his home town after school. Mitsu had chosen New Zealand as he wanted to learn English and he loved the outdoors. Learning that the New Zealand education curriculum included outdoor education made the decision as to where he wanted to go easy. His trips to Tokyo were successful and resulted in an enrolment at Otumoetai College, Tauranga.

Mt. Maunganui

Having no English meant starting a year behind his age group. Though school life was generally good it got better when Mitsu made a friend from a farm. The friendship and invitation to visit the farm resulted in Mitsu spending a lot of time there, becoming part of the family.  When he had to return to Japan the family gave him a  farewell gift, an Earth Sea Sky Merino Metro T-shirt.

Ken Noguchi at Mt. Everest basecamp ©︎Ken Noguchi Office

Mitsu’s Kiwi experience introduced the concept of a gap year, not something practiced in Japan. Back home he heard Japanese mountaineer, Ken Noguchi, the world’s youngest seven-summiteer and social activist, talking on TV about his environmental summer camp. A successful application to join Ken Noguchi resulted in Mitsu being employed as the only assistant.

Cleaning activity on Mt. Fuji

The next 8 years were spent co-ordinating projects including cleaning up rubbish on Mt Manaslu, organising disaster relief programmes, a 60-ton rubbish cleaning activity on Mt. Fuji, Himalayan expeditions, a reforestation project at a high altitude of 4000m, supporting 15 orphans of Nepali climbing guides who lost their lives on the mountain and did not have any support by their party. Some projects started by the massive influence of Sir Edmund Hillary.

Helping with floods in Fukuoka, Japan

Giving Japanese school bags to the students of Gaurishankar school, Mt Manaslu, Nepal

It is the connection with New Zealand Mitsu now wants to pursue. He continues to wear the Metro T-shirt he was given 11 years ago and through this has become a passionate supporter of Earth Sea Sky. A goal is to learn about how a sustainable business works and he has identified Earth Sea Sky as being a place he wants to do this. We look forward to having Mitsu working alongside and observing over the next 6 months.

Mitsu, the Metro & friends on the Camino de Santiago, 2015

“Since November 2008, I have been using my Metro T-shirt, that’s 11 years. Not only has it been worn daily but it’s also spent a lot of time in the outdoors. We travelled and tramped in 30 + countries together.  There are stitched holes and stain spot, but my T-shirt is still in good shape and is definitely my favourite.” Mitsu