Showing posts from May, 2014

Eco Links For May, 2014

Remember these guys that looked like they were trying to bolt from my refrigerator? I planted them and 4 months later, they have given a steady, daily harvest of tasty green peas! Thanks to some of you who have been sending links. The solar energy boom continues in Japan, according to Rudolf ten Hoedt in my new favourite city, Kagoshima. Well researched article published by Energy Post and others, pointing out that the boom is not without issues: For Japan, solar obviously has priority over wind power. 6.7 GW of solar capacity was approved in Japan for the feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme in 2013. Almost half of this was utility-scale solar. This year, Japan is even expected to install over 10 GW of solar power, with more than half of this being utility-scale solar. The boom in utility scale solar got started by an FIT- program introduced in 2012 by the Japanese government. Under this program, regional utilities have to buy power from solar and other renewable energy producers

International Biodiversity Day, Tokyo, Japan

International Biodiversity Day Symposium In Tokyo, Japan International Biodiversity Day Symposium Is Our Food and Biodiversity OK? Saturday 24 May, 2014 YMCA Asia Youth Center Suidobashi, Tokyo, Japan 13:00 Meeting hall open 13:30 Greetings 13:40 Message from South Korea 13:45 Status of GMOs in the Philippines (50 min) 14:35 Bt Brinjal: Bangladesh case (50 min) 15:25 Situation in Japan (20 min) 15:45 Break (15 min) 16:00 Panel discussion (50 min) 16:50 Final comments 17:00 End 18:00 Party at   Tokyo Achikoko !! なんと東京アチコーコーを偶然に見つけて選んでくださったのですがお話をすると、遺伝子組み換え食品に反対し、食品の安全を考える方々のお集まり。小さいけど、無農薬で畑で野菜を作る私としてはとってもウレシイ出逢いでした。   I am very happy that you found our place and know you all. Let’s keep trying to save food safety. I definitely support your activities! お集まりいただいた方々の活動の一部は下記でチェックできます。 Japanese Citizens’ Network for Sustainable Food & Agriculture Consumers Union of Japan 1-9-19-207 Nishi-Waseda S

European Parliament Election, Energy Issues, And More

Most of the news about the weekend's vote in Europe has dealt with issues that I don't care so much about, such as immigration. But Bellona notes that: The European Parliament has a record of being the most ambitious EU institution within the fields of climate change and energy. Earlier this year, it passed a resolution on the policy framework for 2030, where its views on the European Commission’s proposal were presented. The members of the European Parliament voted for a 30 % share for renewables in the energy market and a 40 % improvement in energy efficiency, thereby taking a considerably more determined stance than the Commission. Bellona hopes that the new European Parliament will continue to be at the forefront of the global response to climate change and steer the EU towards a low-carbon society. I have also noticed in conversations with people that a) they don't know that Japan is the world's third largest economy b) they are not aware that a

My Town, The Anime Version

If you like mountains and are up for a bit of a climb, there are lots and lots of wonderful places in Japan. I live north west of Tokyo and suddenly my town is the center of a mountain climbing boom, now further spurred by the anime Yama no Susume (Recommending the Mountains). I'm selling my veggies at the Times Mart store mentioned below. The characters in the anime are students in a high school just 5 minutes from my house, and they get increasingly brave as they try new hills and venture out in nature. I don't teach English, but there are always the odd foreigner walking down the main road, who do indeed teach at Seibo, so - I don't blame some of my neighbors if they confuse me for that crowd. Do get in touch. If you come from Tokyo, this is one of the very best places to explore mountains. My town has of course made some efforts to encourage this trend. Local shops are putting up large billboards with the girls from the anime, and just this weekend, there was

Wild Food

What a discovery, an entire blog devoted to the edible plants found growing wild in Japan. Enjoy. Funny how I have been fighting one particularly obnoxious "weed" in my garden, turns out it is sanshou, a very fragrant plant used for many dishes, and especially potent in May . Do cut its most recent leaves and add to your salad or any dish. This is how I found out! I was in the middle of Tokyo, near Suidobashi station. Tokyo Achikoko is a small Okinawan restaurant with amazing staff that know a lot about food. This time, they simply went outside with a pair of small scissors and harvested the sanshou, and put it on one of the dishes we had ordered. I observed the process, went out to take a second look recognizing the shape of the leaves - my "weed" and confirmed that this is indeed a useful plant... I also enjoyed their original horsebean croquette and the vegetarian goya champuru ... Weeds do that to you. They expose your weakness, your lack of knowledg

Paul McCartney: I'm Down

I saw Paul at Tokyo Dome when he first played the old Beatles tunes, 1989 or so. Was glad to have him back again but now he is - down - with a cold so here is a medley of videos, from Shea Stadium and The Budokan, back in 1965 and 1966. So very much loved here in Japan, after all these years. Back then I was impressed that he promoted Friends of the Earth , the NGO here in Japan. Do support them, if you have the means. Paul has also always been a proponent of the vegetarian way of life, and encouraged " Meat Free Mondays " for people who needed that kind of inspiration. Climate change? EAT LESS MEAT is a major message if you try to contribute to a world that has looked at all the evidence, and we need to get the message across. Is it that difficult? Paul says, it is the kids that give us the hope for the future. I like how Paul also supports meditation  McCartney has also in the past called for Transcendental Meditation to be used in schools. He said: “I believe

Wood Job! Movie & Swedish Mulle In Japan

(This one is for Ken and his amazing efforts up in rural Nagano) So this month we have Wood Job !, a Toei movie about forestry, a comedy actually, by the same team that gave us Swing Girls and I Forget What Other Fun Film About 18 Year Old Amateurs Getting It All Wrong At First... But this seems to be a rather genuine story about a guy who tries to escape the city life and do something worthwhile. Expect being shouted at, a lot. Filmed in Mie Prefecture, where there are no convenience stores and no mobile phone access. But there are also the fabulous festivals and the sweaty fundoshis (ahem) and the reluctant girl (what Japanese movie would be without one?) except she actually gets to bring said young man to some sort of character development. And I think I will stop trying to review this film right there and then, except to note that Swedish singer Maya Hirasawa is back with another great hit, Happiest Fool. Speaking of forests and Sweden, The Japan Times mentions (wit

Food Manga "On Hold"

One of my favourite manga is Oishinbo, created since the 1980s by a team of writers and food experts that truly inspired me to go out and look for better food, and find out about ingredients and their history. Over a hundred books have been published in this series, as well as a couple of anime films, often with political overtones and relevant to the news of the day. So I was sad to hear that they had gone overboard in picturing Fukushima as unsafe, when there is little or no evidence to back up that claim, at least for foods from the prefecture that is on sale (seafood and seaweed products from the region are not on sale). In its May 19 edition, many different experts will get to voice their opinion about this issue, according to Asahi: 'Oishinbo' manga on hold after criticism of Fukushima episodes Chastened editors of the long-running "Oishinbo" manga series agreed to review depictions after scenes about the Fukushima nuclear disaster in recent installments

Trail Running, Walking, Hiking...

Trail running in Japan is about all kinds of fun. While I prefer walking, I love the idea that people go out and about. Where I live, way west of Tokyo, so many opportunities to enjoy trails, ancient hot springs and temples and shrines. GAMBARE! Run! Lunge up endless steps, gongs beating in your ears and stagger a last few paces as if through treacle. Book-keepers wait in judgement, a banner swims overhead- why can’t you read it? Higher still looms a huge silver warrior on horseback, sword poised to lop off the heads of those below. You want to shout, to warn them, but they can’t understand and you laugh manically as you sink to the ground. No, it’s not just another running anxiety dream and you aren’t loosing it. It is a Japanese mountain race … and that’s only the finish…. Tokyo may excite the techno-urbanite, but it’s flat, it’s enormous and it’s very, very ugly. (Even I think that and I come from Rochdale.) Sanity demands that the fell runner gets the hell out. Fortuna

Eco Links For April, 2014

What a lot of travels and what everyone here calls the 連休 (renkyuu, consecutive days off) or "Golden Week" but here are some links that I think are important. Andrew DeWit has a great take on Obama's visit and how a US-Japan Green Alliance may be the key to the future. Heavy on military information but why not? The Pentagon apparently is way ahead of whoever-is-in-charge here in Japan when it comes to visions for defense that will not depend on oil. Japan Focus: Could a US-Japan “Green Alliance” Transform the Climate-Energy Equation? There was no emphasis on US-Japan military cooperation on climate change, even though the US military itself has for years identified climate change as the mother of all threats, including fully 8 detailed references to “climate change” and its consequences in its March 4, 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR 2014). Indeed, the American green military-industrial complex is openly calling for NATO to focus even more on climate ch