The idea and birth of Satoyama therapy was first conceived in 2007. With the ever-increasing threat of global climate change, we felt compelled to engage in some activity which would be beneficial to the environment. Plans were then made for the design of a 'Kitchen Garden' to be constructed on our hospital rooftop. Our objective was to provide a space where patients could get involved in a hands-on role, planting flowers, fruits and vegetables. Within a year, our 'Rooftop Kitchen Garden' was completed. Patients of the hospital and day care center now had the opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the garden atmosphere. The positive effects of our rooftop garden became apparent instantly. Patients who participated in horticulture therapy received much more joy and satisfaction, and became significantly more alive and responsive, as opposed to how they behaved during other, more routine daycare activities. This lead to a more progressive practive of horticulture therapy at Wakabakai Hospital in 2008.
1. Our search for the ideal garden took us to London where we visited and were inspired by the senior residents of the Chelsea Royal Hospital. Here they have their own farm which they care for daily; planting seeds, harvesting crops and often sharing the fruits of their labor with staff, family and friends. We could clearly see how happy they looked and how active they became as they performed these actions.
2. For the design and construction, we chose world renowned gardener and Nagasaki native Kazuyuki Ishihara, carefully selected land, and built a brooke using the gentle slopes of the hill and open spaces. One cannot help but feel a sense of nostalgia within the depths of nature and reproduction of Satoyama.
3. Through his various connections, Mr. Ishihara was able to set up the rate opportunity to visit the original Althorp Garden; the resting place of Princess Diana and formally introduce us to Lord Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer. Althorp Garden is also home of a specialized variety of Sweet Pea, known as Spencer Sweet Peas. Upon our visit we received as a gift a variety of Spencer Sweet Pea seeds and the right to use the name; 'Althorp Garden.'
Through continued observation of the effects of Satoyama therapy on senile dementia residents, we found patients improved their MMSE scores as well as their overall mental health. In addition, Satoyama therapy clearly made the patients happier, which makes their families happier and in turn brings joy to the caregiver. We believe no one should turn away from dealing with the reality and misery of dementia but strive to build an optimistic society who understand that people suffering from dementia can still enjoy a life filled with purpose.