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Showing posts from February, 2011

Sakerock: Pleasure Trip & Nihon no Hito

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If you like indies music, pop music mixed with jazz and other beats, do check Sakerock out. They play instrumental tracks - with Hamano Kenta on trombone as the driving force. The drummer is terrific. And it just so happens that they come from Hanno City, Saitama. They also do Japanese folk music and they are heavy on "cool" if that word is even used these days, but their suits and hats are a give a way. They like "cool" and they like graphic design (as noted by Ian Lynam over at Neojaponisme, writing about graphic designer Ohara Daijiro, who does the lettering for their albums and videos).

Hoshino Gen (guitar) was born in 1981 and got his first taste of fame in the 69 film (2004, Director: Sang-il Lee) based on Murakami Ryu's novel about a high school in turmoil in Sasebo, Kyushu back in 1969, as students were protesting all over the world. Hamano Kenta (trombone) was born on August 5, 1981. Watch him in the drama Honey and Clover.

Free schools of course have a …

The Big "0"

Not the letter O, I mean "ZERO" - as in zero waste.

A small town of 2,000 people has started down an ambitious path to 100% zero waste - Kamikatsu, in Shikoku Region's Tokushima Prefecture.



So far, the town has increased its recycling and composting rate to 80 percent. As a result of Kamikatsu's lead, at least two municipalities have made a zero waste declaration - Minamata City in Kumamoto Prefecture, and Oki town in Fukuoka Prefecture. In addition, Hayama town in Kanagawa Prefecture has adopted a zero waste policy. Let's help this trend catch on in a much bigger way.

I like the Mayor's happi coat, recycled from a koinobori (carp streamer).

And here is a report about a family in the USA who have a virtually zero waste household. Perhaps not surprisingly, the lady of the house was not originally from the US, but France. This family lives in one of the wealthiest counties of the US, so if they can do it, it can happen anywhere.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news

Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecure: Controversial New Nuclear Power Plant

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Kaminoseki Town comprises a peninsula and several islands. It has a population of 3,600 people. Nuclear power? The proposed construction site is on Nagashima Island which is connected by a bridge to the mainland. Iwaishima Island, which has a population of 500 people "who are almost all opposed to the nuclear power plant," is just 3.5 km across the sea from the construction site.

Pan Orient News: Five Japanese in Hunger Strike Against Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant (English)

In Japanese, there are a huge number of blogs, twitter and other new media using Internet to show what is going on.

Chugoku Electric Power Company operates just two nuclear power plants and is currently constructing a third on the Japan Sea coast in Matsue City, the capital of Shimane Prefecture. But, right now, they also are doing everything possible to start building two nuclear power plants on the Seto Inland Sea coast in Kaminoseki Town, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Yesterday and today, this is where activists …

Local Banks Trying To Save Forests In Japan

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If you follow the money, to get to the source of either all evil or some good progress, you may want to know what banks in Japan are doing for good causes. Some of the nation's local banks have started a campaign to save Japan's forests. They have a website with updates about their activities, and it is indeed nation-wide.

11 banks from Hokkaido and northern Honshu, 13 banks in central Honshu, 11 in Hokuriku and Toukai, 7 in Kinki (Kyoto, Osaka), 9 in Shikoku, 12 in Kyushu and Okinawa. It all adds up. Some 63 local banks that try to make a difference? I am interested. No huge mega-banks here, Gordon Gekko is not invited.

I'm sure they can do a lot of good, if they try. But, of course, the reason I even found this, and their forest-hugging website, is because I wanted to know more about the Juroku Ginko in Nagoya, the one that has helped (?) destroy the Hirabari Satoyama, a small forest reserve in a city that has almost no natural space left at all. Yup, that particular bank …

Hirabari Destroyed

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The people of the Hirabari Environment Protection Association have been working on protecting a small forest in Nagoya and asked Miyazaki Hayao to give them advice on it. Miyazaki replied to them with the following message:

"I'm backing you people of Hirabari Environment Protection Association from the bottom of my heart." - Miyazaki Hayao, Fichi-no-mori chairman

"The age of an ever increasing population is over. The age of city outspread is towards the end too. We are now in an age during which we have to rebuild our country that is moth-eaten and fragmented by overdevelopment. It is an age in which we have to rebuild it for human and natural life forms to live comfortably in. In Tokorozawa and Higashi-Murayama we are working for growing the small forests that remain from development. Though we are far in distance, we are like-minded and we hope you can gather wisdom, power and money, and reach a good result." (July 12 2009)

From GhibliWorld.com

But Hirabari Satoy…

Mozart Horn Concerto No. 1 KV 412/514

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I mentioned Ibaraki in my last post about soybeans. Just so noone gets the wrong idea about that particular prefecture, here is the Mito Chamber Orchestra. Seiji Ozawa conducting, and horn virtuoso Radek Baborák does the honours. Mozart's horn concerto is not an easy piece at all.

W.A.Mozart's first Horn Concerto in D major, KV 412/514(386b) I. Allegro, II. Rondo

Compare to Baborák playing the same piece with Barenbaum conducting, not sure where, but I'm pretty sure it is the Berlin Philharmoniker. While in Japan, he has also performed with the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

And, while in Mito, they also performed Mozart's horn concerto No. 2. Here is the rondo.

I'm going to have to add Ibaraki to my list of labels. Anyone in favour?

Soybean Field Trust Movement (Daizu Trust) And Efforts To Make Rural Japan Cool Again

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I went to a fun meeting today with the Soybean Field Trust Movement people, including farmers and consumers, who are trying to encourage interest in locally grown soy. One speaker noted that in Ibaraki Prefecture (considered No. 2 after Hokkaido for soy production) a recent inventory revealed over 100 different varieties. Much soy in Japan is used for tofu, miso and soy sauce. Did you know that soy is used as edamame, often as a snack?

The Soybean Field Trust Movement started some 13 years ago, when it became clear that imported soy from the US was increasingly genetically modified, and controlled by large multinational corporations like Monsanto. On top of that, the soy that Japan imported from Latin America was found to lead to the destruction of the Amazon forests.

Japan still imports a lot of soy, but companies like Honda Motor Co. (!) have set up special silos in North America that only accepts non-GMO soy:

In Ohio, non-GMO soybean acreage increased 6%, the largest increase in any …

GIFT: Chandran Nair

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I learned of GIFT just the other day when I listened to an interview on BBC - Peter Day's World of Business. The guest was Chandran Nair, former environmental consultant and Founder and CEO of GIFT - the Global Institute for Tomorrow, based in Hong Kong. GIFT looks at the problems of economic growth, pollution, climate change, food, and so on, with a focus on that part of the world which will drive these issues in the 21st century: Asia.

GIFT is not just another think tank, but an organization with an active outreach that helps people directly in the Asia region and educates students through their "Young Leaders Programme".

From their website - Global Institute for Tomorrow-

"The YLP is a unique executive learning programme aimed at developing leadership and business skills by applying these in an experiential context to design commercially viable solutions for socially responsible projects in Asia."

GIFT also provides advisory services and offers ideas through s…