Showing posts from September, 2010

Kyoto Journal Biodiversity: Online Content Video

From 10,000 Things : With 2010 designated "The Year of Biodiversity," a crucial UN-sponsored conference on the preservation of biological diversity on our planet (COP10) will be held from October 18 through 29 in Nagoya, Japan. The award-winning, all-volunteer, non-profit English-language quarterly Kyoto Journal, has taken this conference as a call to action, an opportunity to contribute to the dialogue, which is being lopsidedly shaped by corporate interests. The result: a brilliantly designed issue with painstakingly detailed layouts sure to inspire creative solutions to the loss of biodiversity. Issue 75 not only showcases the preservation of biodiversity in Japan through satoyama (rural areas where people have lived with the land without desecrating it), but also includes the voices of essayists, poets, photographers, and artists from all over the world working passionately to sustain biodiversity in their own lands. Issues of the journal will be distributed to delegat

Peace Boat: Not Your Usual Holiday Trip

If you want to spend time with some great people, travel the world, on a large ship, what would you do? Peace Boat is a Japanese Non Governmental Organization (NGO), with staff that has a lot of experience, having embarked on many trips around the world. They are also looking for volunteers. Founded in 1983, this is not your usual trip to a tourist location! Emilie wrote and said they just returned from an Eco-Study program in Okinawa (Sept 22 - 26). They are now planning their next visit for the Peace Music Festa in Henoko from Oct 30-31. You can find information about the event here: Peace Music Please feel free to resend, repost and help promote their work for COP 10 and the protection of the dugong in Okinawa. Photos here (Picasa album). US for Okinawa also has more details! Founded by Nara native Kiyomi Tsujimoto and others at a time when Vietnam was still a major scar (boat refugees where not so welcome to settle in Japan) but Tsujimoto wanted to "promote peace, hu

Kyoto Journal: Biodiversity Japan's Satoyama & Our Shared Future

The latest issue of Kyoto Journal looks absolutely marvellous, with photos and images that match the quality of the texts. I could go on and on about how happy I feel about this - and having played a very small part in the process leading up to this issue, I found my two contributions among the articles that are featured online. This richly informative and lavishly illustrated edition features wide-ranging contributions by more than 50 writers, photographers and artists, specially prepared for distribution this fall at COP10 in Nagoya, the UN’s 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD). An extensive 22-page section explores the ideal – and troubling present-day reality – of Japan’s satoyama: rural areas where people have lived with the land and on it without spoiling it over many generations, preserving and even promoting biodiversity. Plus over 30 diverse exclusive online reports — all downloadable. CONTENTS OF PRINT ISSUE (excerpts on subpages, s

New Ministers - Again - For The Environment And Agriculture

Naoto Kan has appointed new Ministers for the Environment and for Agriculture, thus making things a little more tricky as Japan hosts the UN MOP5/COP10 conference on biological diversity in Nagoya next month. Not exactly the best timing, if you ask me. Changing the people in charge of a major international conference is likely to weaken the hand of the host country. Over at the website of the Ministry of the Environment, they are showing their commitment to biodiversity: The National Biodiversity Strategy is a national basic plan for the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use. In 1995, the Government of Japan decided, as required by the Convention on Biological Diversity, the first-ever National Biodiversity Strategy, which has been reviewed twice in 2002 and 2007 so far. Since the Basic Act on Biodiversity enacted in 2008 requires the government to formulate the national biodiversity strategy, the Minister of the Environment asked the president of the Council for the r

Haruki Murakami: Norwegian Wood Film

I am looking forward to December, when the film based on Murakami Haruki's novel Norwegian Wood will be released. Back in 1988 or 1989, it was the first Japanese novel I ever read (Recently, I just reached the last chapter of Kafka on the Shore, don't tell me how it ends). Apparently, it is the first time a song by the Beatles is used for a major Japanese film. Variety has this to say, efter the film was shown in Venice (quote): With his striking visual sense and gift for conjuring a mood of languid sensuality, Tran Anh Hung would seem the ideal filmmaker to tackle "Norwegian Wood," Haruki Murakami's beguiling novel of longing, loss and sexual curiosity in 1960s Japan. But while this beautiful-looking film at times succeeds in capturing its source material's delicate emo spirit, it's far less attentive to the richness of Murakami's characters -- namely, a college student haunted by one woman and ardently pursued by another. Lovely but listless pi

Biodiversity: Lectures In Okayama As We Prepare For Nagoya

Talking about biological diversity, food and agriculture this weekend - I like public speaking but I was in for a surprise on Friday in Fujita, Okayama, as the local radio station suddenly showed up for a live broadcast while I was in the middle of a talk with 6th graders at the Fujita Junior High School . You can imagine where their attention went as they saw a journalist enter with a microphone! (Loved talking with these kids, btw.) After that we were rushed in a Toyota Prius to the next event, meeting farmers part of the local 農協 (Noukyou, agricultural cooperative, also known by their alphabet letters JA, Japan Agriculture). Fujita is a huge river basin that was converted to rice and veggie cultivation with the help of a German landscape architect in the Meiji era. Great comments from some very astute onion and renkon farmers, and a lady who is known for not using chemicals for her akatombo kome (rice from a field with red dragon-flies that thrive without causing any harm to

Base Opponents Win Majority In Nago, Okinawa Election

From Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre blog, "Base opponents win majority in Nago election 名護市議選、基地反対の稲嶺市長を支える与党が圧勝" Nago City Council Election on September 12 resulted in the candicates supporting Mayor Inamine's opposition against a new base gained 16 seats, winning the majority in the 27-seat council. The election was not a referendum on the base issue, but it sends a message to the Japanese and the U.S. governments that their heavy-handed efforts to buy off Nago's "min-i (democratic voices)" are not working. They should stop trying to convince voters of Nago, and start listening to them. ...And start respecting democratic process throughout Okinawa... Update: PanOrient News notes that the vote deals "a fresh blow to efforts to construct a new US Marine airbase along the pristine coastline of Henoko beach." According to local reports, allies of Mayor Inamine secured 16 of the 27 seats in the assembly. Moreover, two other candi

More Japanese Transition Towns...

The website of NPO Transition Town has links to the activities here in Japan, with local communities thinking about what to do - fossile fuel dependency, local money, food security - and fun. Last year in December 2009, they did Transition Training in Hayama, a workshop to discuss the issues. There are more of them than I knew, according to the website: Transition Hub Japan We have been meeting regularly since June 2008 and gradually making progress. Go to our official web site in Japanese: Some of the things that we have accomplished so far are; * translated the Transition Primer into Japanese * created a number of presentation material for TT in Japanese * have done several presentation sessions for the general public * have developed network with like-minded organizations * developed Transition Japan website -see above link * hosted Transition Training as well as the Train-the-Trainer last February/March with

Community Centers In Japan: Transition Town Links?

City Halls are rather big affairs in Japan, but locally, if you live here, you must have a community center or citizens hall nearby. Most likely, if you are like me, you have never set foot in the place. I am told they serve as a gathering place (shelter) in time of disaster, and is used for recycling activities, giving rabies vaccines to dogs, education talks, community planning talks, etc. (Thanks P) 公民館 koumin-kan (public hall, community center) 市民センータ shimin center (citizen center) You can google using the kanji of your town name, and add any of the above, and see if there is a local hall or center near where you live. I got to wonder about how to go about all of this after watching the transition town dvd from the UK, called In Transition . There are cases of local communities that have started to think about how to respond proactively and creatively to peak oil and climate change, "seeing them as a historic opportunity to build the world anew..." Could I actually m

Local Hero: Save Your Local Beach (1983)

Remember this film. Join Danny and Mac as they stroll along Ferness beach, Camasdarach, Scotland and discuss the implications of a world without oil. The film is set in the fictional fishing village of Ferness on the west coast of Scotland. A young representative of an American oil company is sent to the village on a mission... The film's soundtrack, which outsold the film itself, was written by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, and is considered amongst his best work. A very special film, from way back in the early 1980s, directed by Bill Forsyth. A world without oil...? No automobiles, no nylon, no polish, no detergents, no paint, no ink... No water-proof coats, and what about dry-cleaning fluids...? I like Japanese films, but can you tell me even one motion picture from this country that touches on important themes like this? We take so much for granted, we have so little to offer in case things get rough. I like how connected we are, but at the same time, we hardly know our

Biogas As Fuel Or As City Gas?

I was interviewed by TV Tokyo for a program about biogas in Sweden, to be shown on the air on September 11, 2010. Biogas has gotten a lot of attention because municipalities can easily invest in factories that convert methane from sewage or food garbage (生ごみ、namagomi) into a efficient fuel for city buses, garbage trucks, and even ambulances. This means less dependency on fossile fuels: not having to use imported gasoline or diesel is seen as a very important policy. There are some efforts in Japan to produce biogas. Kobe started providing biogas to buses in April, 2008 and Biogas Net Japan was established by 11 major corporations in January 2008: The establishment of Biogas Net Japan follows a series of trials carried out by the Biogas Network Consortium (established in 2005 under the aegis of The Japan Research Institute by some 30 energy related companies and plant & equipment makers with a view to making efficient use of the biogas produced by organic waste matter). Thes French Twist on Vegetables for Tokyo Locavore

Joan at writes: A small group of people wearing aprons focus intently on one woman stirring a mixture of flour and water. At first glance she appears to be speaking to the bowl in front of her as she gives instruction on making pasta by hand, but her devotees hang on every word and motion. These locavores in training are getting a dose of DIY: the art of French cooking with Japanese vegetables. Joan notes that Delphine also teaches students how to use what’s at hand and in season to advantage. The July class centered around zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. The September classes will feature some of the summer vegetables again – eggplants, cucumbers, and tomatoes – as well as some of the early fall harvest – komatsuna and leeks. All the vegetables are organic and are sourced from the farm she partners with in Ibaraki-ken or other local growers. The remaining ingredients are organic whenever possible, which lets students know about organic grocers in Tokyo, too. Le Pani

Steps On The Way Down: Akinori Ito

It is no secret that the world has reached the peak of oil production and will begin a steep descent in the near future - in 1 to 5 years depending on who one listens to. Several government and business reports issued this year have confirmed that fact. The decline will be around 10% per year and will scarcely be offset by expensive and/or dirty fuels like Alberta Tar Sands, shale oil, and "clean coal". Ethanol is a net energy loser which exists because of subsidies and also takes away food crops desperately needed in our hungry world. Wind and solar will have a role to play, but will still represent at best a few percent of the energy we use now for the foreseeable future. In the years ahead, we will "simply" have to adjust the way we do almost everything to use much less energy. While no technological miracle is going to "save us" from the end of the oil age, there are some bright spots. To wit: Akinori Ito , the CEO of Blest, has built a

Eco Hype Event For Okinawa At Favela In Aoyama, Tokyo

From Emilie McGlone and Jonathan Yamauchi of US for Okinawa : Hello Everyone, We are sending you information about the next US for OKINAWA event! We are now fundraising for our Okinawa Peace Project coming up soon in September! Please join us if you can and invite your friends ! ■9/12 Eco Hype event at Favela in Aoyama ■9/22-26 Okinawa Peace Project, Study Program 9.12 (SUN) ECHO HYPE Sunday afternoon party at Favela in Aoyama Map: DJs: Ryo Tsutsui (Eden / Weekend Warriorz ) Sho-hey (Octagon) Sam Fitzgerald (P4P) Bosh (Dial ) DJ Maada Raha (Ooooze) + Live Art & Free Organic food (from Tengu/Alishan) *Party from 16:00 - 24:00 / 2000 yen *Discount list 1500 yen / email: Info: US for Okinawa and PangeaSeed joined together for a beach-clean up and eco-friendly lunch over the weekend, they plan to organize another beach event next year for Ocean`s day (海の日) in Japan. To see more photos, click here: http://picas