Showing posts from January, 2014

Happy New Lunar Year


This map made me think about Communist China in a new way. It shows the economic reality of where people with the means can travel. Other areas, not so much. Taiwan: why is it a blank spot? How was this data collected? No way this is sustainable. As the current economic model fails to deliver, millions of people will be rather angry, unless there is much more enlightened leadership. China, as we know it, is much smaller and incredibly dense. No wonder the pollution is so high.

I have not yet visited China, and Kurashi could benefit from more information - but really, this image provides much more food for thought than a thousand words...

IBTimes: Chinese New Year 2014: Baidu Map Captures Mass Homeward Migration

With hundred of millions of people on the move within China for the start of the Year of the Horse, the phenomenon is the biggest human migration in the world.
In addition, millions more travel to China from overseas to celebrate the coming of the new year with friends a…

Beans 1

I had to laugh when I found these genki beans in the back of my fridge. Captions, please!

I had forgotten about them, sorry to say, but they had other plans.

Like, "escape" or at least do the best beans can do.

"Hey guys, let's get out of this old pod!" "OK, make a break for it, all together now!" "Isn't it getting stinky in here, wouldn't mind a bit of a breather myself...?" "OH! Girls, I saw the light?!" "OH! I do belieeeve..." "Me toooo!"

Or something like that. Or, more likely, "Ahem, it is late January, genetically speaking we should all be starting to think about sprouting about, ahem, grin and bear it, around NOW..."

I did have mercy on most of them, and planted them in real soil. If there is a follow up, I'll let you all know. Thanks for reading Kurashi.

And isn't the photo just hilarious: "Kick!"

Japan Focus: WikiLeaks Article

My take on the recent WikiLeaks release of details about TPP is up on Japan Focus:

WikiLeaks and the Release of the Environment Report

WikiLeaks has done it again – made available important documents that governments and corporate interests have tried to keep secret from the general public. Until this new release, we had almost no idea what was going on within the secret Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations involving an extraordinarily diverse group of 12 large and small as well as rich and poor nations of East and Southeast Asia, Australasia, and North and South America. The twelve are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United State and Vietnam, with the US driving the agenda. South Korea and Taiwan have also indicated that they may want to join. This time, we get a glimpse of the status of the Environment Chapter with important implications for the people and nature of the region. In this cartoon accompanying the relea…

Japan Ranking, Toyota Number One?

We all like to compare, and here is how Bloomberg got Japan at 4th place among the world's most innovative countries.

4. Japan Japan ranked fourth in Bloomberg's Global Innovation Index. Here is how the country ranked in the determining factors:
R&D intensity: 5th
Productivity: 14th
High-tech density: 8th
Researcher concentration: 9th
Manufacturing capability: 6th
Tertiary efficiency: 30th
Patent activity: 3rd
I would be much more impressed if Bloomberg added an energy capability to its index. And why not other factors related to environmental protection?

We all held our breaths, and sorry to say, Toyota once again is the world's number one car manufacturer. Too bad, I would say, as Japan has no idea how to supply the gasoline to promote a car-owning culture.

I know, they are awfully fuel efficient and they do the Prius and all of that, but come on, we are facing a future with massive emissions of carbon dioxide, and other man-made gasses and stuff that muck up the air childre…

Stellar Links

Okinawa does it again: Mayor Susume wins in Nago, opposes US base construction

I have to agree with Ten Thousand Things, this is a moment for all to consider, like when Martin Luther King spoke of a "moral arch of justice" back in the 1960s in the US.

Fukushima local election results just as encouraging. Minamisoma mayor Katsunobu Sakurai won and will continue his fight against nuclear power. Mainichi Shinbun:

Sakurai's re-election victory over his two rivals with close ties to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is certain to put pressure on the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to change its policy to restart idled nuclear reactors in Japan. Nuclear power is also expected to become a focal point of the Feb. 9 Tokyo gubernatorial election.
Whether to end nuclear power generation and whether idled nuclear reactors should be reactivated or not are also likely to become hot issues in a growing number of elections, even among municipalities that don't ho…

Amy Goodman, Colin Crouch In Japan: Revival Of Democracy In The Global Age?

If you follow Democracy Now! you will be interested in the one day seminar at Sophia University in Tokyo on Saturday, featuring Amy Goodman and Colin Crouch as speakers. More information here.

A day-long symposium hosted by the Institute for Global Concern, Sophia University.
Doors open 9:30 am, program from 10 am–17:45.
Featuring keynote addresses by Amy Goodman and Colin Crouch.
Event is free, but pre-registration is required, as seating is limited.
To register, or for more information, call or email:
Phone: 03-3238-3023 (Institute of Global Concern, Sophia University)
please cc: all email registration requests to

It has been an interesting week for those who follow the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations as Wikileaks managed to get hold of and share important documents related to the Environment Chapter. Still massive disagreement among the 12 countries that are trying to seal this anti-democratic trade pact,…

Farmers Markets 2014 And Much More

So much going on here with all kinds of farmers markets and marche events and promotions for islands and local fairs...

Atenna shops too a great way to make your local foods known in the big cities. Add to that parties and invitation-only deals. I like it a lot.

My Kodansha 2009 book was all about making it obvious that Japan has to celebrate its culinary roots. Be that seasonal - in January I love the decopon citrus, as well as other green veggies and fruits and berries that we can only enjoy around this cold season.

Top image from Nagiru

I think we will see more and more of independent markets, in 2014.

It is happening in Osaka, too. And in Beijing!!

The Beijing Farmers’ Market began life as a foreign-inspired fad run by a small group of expatriate artists but, three years on, it has become one of Beijing’s premier foodie paradises, where dozens of farmers, cheese makers and other self-professed “artisans” enjoy a thriving trade every weekend.

I hope more and more blogs will pr…

Finding Jupiter

Unusually, we can see Jupiter with the bare eye. Clear sky, late night, just above left to Orion. And if you can't find Orion, I'd say you are seriously planet-inhibited. As in having no clue about our position with regards to major planetary bodies. Tycho Brahe and then Newton and others did us the favour of doing the math...

So, do go out, late at night, cover one of your eyes for a couple of minutes to avoid light pollution, if that is that case. Try to find a dark spot. Stand there for a while.

Finding Orion should be easy.

Three stars to the south.

Above that to the upper left, you have Jupiter.

Rarely do we get to see the guru planet. Only now in January. Great view. If you have better ways of viewing, you may see Jupiter's moons. Imagine how people in the past where amazed noticing that Earth was not the only planetary mass with objects revolving around it.


"Bystander's Vantage Point"

There is a Japanese expression that I was reminded of at the beginning of the year, which I liked.

傍目八目 or 岡目八目 (oka-me-hachi-moku)

My dictionaries give me "Bystander's vantage point" or something related to watching a game of go, and as such, it is much easier to see the game unfolding some eight steps ahead, as it where. "Observing objectively" comes some way to explain the expression, although that is neither here nor there.

I blog here at Kurashi with some ideas of what I like and what I do not like. I am obviously just a bystander, but after some time in Japan, I am also a player. I do wish the best to all people, and try to put my finger on what are the right steps to take, as we all plod ahead.

So when I see news that Japan is about to enter a trade agreement that gives no regard to this country's amazing agricultural heritage, just for a few people to export more cars, and whatever, I find that so shortsighted. When I see the mass media play into t…

Organic Cotton In Japan, And Your Other Choices (Think Bangladesh, Cambodia)

What you wear tells a lot about you. Fashion is such a fad. Much like what you prefer to eat or drink. Recently, we had all kinds of bad news about how our garments are produced. More about that below. First the good news.

I'm encouraged that there is a trend to grow organic cotton, and use no pesticides and no genetically modified (patented) seeds from multinational corporations with a dark history, like Monsanto or DuPont or BASF, or Bayer. We know what they can do to our planet when it comes to food, now ask what they are doing to fiber.

Be that as it may, here in Japan there is a vibrant movement for organic cotton.

Tohoku Cotton Project is doing this:

To connect your everyday life with the disaster areas and to create a continuous support system that is not a heavy burden --

That's our promise.

Music : Takeshi Kobayashi
Movie : Kensaku Kakimoto
Photo : Yukihide Nakano
Translation Volunteer : Kei Hamada

Yup, cotton is grown here in Japan, in spite of all the odds, in places lik…