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Showing posts from July, 2009

Fair Trade: 2.9 Yen Per Person...

... is what the average Japanese is spending on Fair trade goods, while people in Switzerland spend almost 3000 Yen per person (per year), according to Bizmakoto.jp.

My supermarkets all have Fair trade coffee and I have seen chocolate in a couple of stores as well.

But that's about it.

In my Food safety ranking book, I rank Fair trade coffee from Ogawa Coffee Co. higher than the other products. It is organic and their mocca blend is a fantastic way to start the day. This is a Kyoto-based company but they sell all over Japan. If your local supermarket doesn't have Fair trade coffee, let them know about it!

In Europe, the Fair trade movement has many "World Shops" with toys, clothes and other stuff imported and labelled especially to support small-scale farmers and producers in third world countries. They are often linked to Christian churches with missionaries. For better or worse, Europeans have a long history of exchange with rural communities in Africa in particular, a…

Ballet: Farukh Ruzimatov In Tokyo

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I had the great pleasure to see Farukh Ruzimatov and the Leningrad State Ballet perform in Tokyo yesterday. Great program with all the classics you'd expect, including Nut Cracker and SwanLake by Tchaikovsky. The video clip here is from Schererazade, the ancient Persian story...

Ruzimatov was born in in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He is very popular in Japan, and last night, the ovations just did not want to end. There were so many flowers...

Farukh Ruzimatov also performed a very special Asura dance to the ancient sounds of Japanese music:

阿修羅

振付:岩田 守弘 音楽:藤舎名生
 ファルフ・ルジマトフ

これは良かったです!前にも一度観たことがあったけど、2回目に観ると、より面白く観ることができました。私は外国人の振付家が日本をイメージして創った何ちゃって勘違い和モノダンスが大嫌いなのですが(それはたとえノイマイヤーであっても嫌)、岩田さんの作品は、踊りの中に魂を感じることができて、しかもルジマトフの禁欲的な雰囲気にもマッチしていて、観ているうちにじーんとしてきます。和太鼓と掛け声の音楽も、違和感なく振付に生かされていました。ルジマトフは前より少し体格が立派になった感じです。が、この人の一つ一つのポーズは本当に美しくて、一つ一つが絶妙な角度で止まって、惚れ惚れします。彼はいつもアラインメントが綺麗なのよね~。

From la doce vita

Food Shop: Harajuku Batake

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I have written about antenna shops before, such as Yasui-san's shop in Nishi-Waseda where I get eggs (from free-range farms that don't use GMO-feed) and rye bread, and sometimes vegetables or fruit: stores that specialize in selling local foods from around Japan, while also promoting local varieties and the chisan-chishou concept (地産地消, chi-san chi-shou: local farming, local consumption).

And you can find them even in busy, fashionable parts of town, like the Dosanko Plaza in Yurakucho.

Let me introduce Harajuku Batake, a small, fiendly shop with seasonal vegetables, rice, and locally processed foods from Kyushu, including Kumamoto and the Aso region. Kimiko, the owner, is from Niigata, and if you go there on a hot summer day, don't miss her ice cream!

Her Harajuku Batake blog is great, with recipies and photos of whatever is in stock. The shop is on Meiji Dori just north of Harajuku, near Kita-sando station.

Address: Sendagaya 3-14-3, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

When I dropped in…

Total Eclipse Of The Sun Today In Asia

A string of countries in Asia are experiencing a total eclipse of the sun today Wednesday. Here in Japan, the spectacular eclipse will be visible from Akusekijima Island for 6 minutes and 25 seconds from 10:53 AM, local time. It is actually the longest total solar eclipse visible from any inhabited area of the world this century, according to NHK World and other media.

The eclipse started in India, and followed a track across China and Japan. It has gotten a lot of attention as it is the first total solar eclipse in Japan in forty-six years:

At the moment of total eclipse, the sky is dark, except for the sun appearing as a very bright ring around the outline of the moon, providing what is known as the ‘diamond ring’. We can subsequently get dramatic views of the corona ringing the sun. The sun is the source of life on this planet. A total eclipse abruptly deprives us of its light and warmth. The sun appears dark and there is a sudden drop in temperature. It is an event which plunges t…

"New Operating System For Post-Peak Oil Age"

Remember the first time you got a chance to play around with a computer connected to the Internet? That shrill cheap beep beep beep of the modem ("Modem? What is a modem? Explain why I need a modem?") that made it possible to read websites and get your own email account? Remember how slow it was?

I remember "error" messages as I was trying to print things out about how Monsanto and Bayer were taking over seed companies in the US and Europe, or how Codex Alimentarius would discuss food additives that hadn't been properly assessed by independent researchers. Or how TRIPS of the WTO would change the way farmers dealt with their crops, how Monsanto's (and USDA's) "Terminator" GMOs - that would only live for one single season, and then, to the joy of their creator and his wallet, the sterile offspring was designed to not yield a seed that could produce another seed - would feed us all, except farming doesn't work like that, and farmers in Asia …

Video: Kodo Drumming Training

If you like traditional Japanese drumming, here is a 15:36 minute long documentary that is very good, but no embedding allowed, so do click on the link and go to the Youtube page. Good interviews and subtitles with the Kodo people at Sado Island. I'm hoping you will take the time to watch. I love how the students have to learn how to make their own drum sticks, use their left hand to eat with chopsticks, farm rice... Obviously hard training.

"Life ruled by rythm..."

To become a Kodo drummer, students are put through two years of hell. But these apprentices will endure anything to make the grade.

In the Kodo drumming camp, students practice for around 20 hours a day. Cigarettes, alcohol, and TV are banned, there are no holidays or weekends off and their bodies are pushed to extremes. The day starts with a 15 km run up a mountain and ends when the students are too exhausted to continue. "I'm amazed at how far I can go," states one.

Produced by ABC Australia
Distri…

Micro-Hydro Power In Japan

I like the idea of micro-hydro power production. It makes sense that small towns and communities should rely more on local solutions.

In Kochi prefecture, one town decided to go micro-hydro and install small power plants. Yusuhara found that it took some effort, but after town meetings and a focus on education, people liked the idea of self-sufficiency and the environmental benefits. One way to get people interested turned out to be inviting experts from NGOs and local environmental groups, who could discuss global warming and the need for CO2 reduction targets. Way to go Kochi!

More about micro-hydro on greenz.jp and over at Treehugger (in English) and Agua y Terra (in Japanese).

Post updated: I did a second post about micro-hydro over at Treehugger: Tsuru, Yamanashi (Japan) Finding Off-Grid Solutions To Solve Their Energy Needs

Quote:

Tsuru, a small town in Yamanashi prefecture in Japan, has implemented strategies to harness some of the resources at their disposal. They are promoting mi…

Comparing Countries: Sweden And Japan (And More)

Comparing countries is never easy. Yet, some data speaks for itself. The Equality Trust is a UK research group that has carefully looked at different countries, comparing income equality: For example, in Japan and Sweden the income gap is fairly small: the richest 20% are less than 4 times as rich as the poorest 20%; but in Britain the richest 20% are over 7 times as rich as the poorest 20%, and in the USA they are over 8 times as rich.

Here are some graphs comparing countries on different issues:

Obesity
Trust and Community Life
Violence
Rich and Poor Countries

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, a book published by Penguin in March 2009.

For example, Sweden gets its greater equality through redistribution, through taxes and benefits, and public services provided by a big state. In contrast, Japan has a greater equality of "market incomes", before redistribution. Differences in Japanese earnings are smaller eve…

Eco-Points For Consumers in Japan

Japan has introduced an Eco-Point system that gives you discounts:

6,000-9,000 points if you buy a new air conditioner, depending on cooling power

3,000-10,000 points if you buy a new refrigerator depending on capacity

7,000-36,000 points if you buy a new television depending on the size of screen

If you want to reduce CO2 emissions, and replace an old airconditioner, this could be a good time to do some research.

Details here (in Japanese only)

Application forms are available at retail stores and post offices. You can also get more points if you recycle your old stuff: for example, your old fridge may be worth 5,000 points. A brochure of goods exchangeable with Eco-Points can be found at the website (http://eco-points.jp). Copies of the brochures are also put at electric appliance retail stores and post offices. The deadline for exchanging Eco-Points for goods is set at the end of March 2012.

So, how much is one Eco-Point worth? This is where things get tricky. For example, 13,500 eco-poin…