Showing posts from February, 2015

Eco Links For February, 2015

Time sure flies! I already have spuds in the soil (danchaku variety) and some peas in the greenhouse. Harvesting purple cabbage and lettuce, and spinach - need to protect them from birds, clever creatures they are. Next weekend is the big Japan Organic Agriculture Association (JOAA) assembly in Tokyo , a great opportunity to talk to experts in the field here. I'll be participating in the workshop about teikei (CSA) and show a few photos from my humble garten. Big reason I got so hot under my collar about growing my own vegetables was - visiting and learning from JOAA farmers. Food safety, anyone? Good to know we are not exposed to anything harmful, unless you eat a lot of wild boar meat. Strontium 90 may be a concern, however. Water also safe. Analysis of Japanese Radionuclide Monitoring Data of Food Before and After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Stefan Merz † , Katsumi Shozugawa * ‡ , and Georg Steinhauser * § ⊥ † Atominstitut, Vienna University of Technology , S

How Ethical Is Your Bank?

Wow, the words "ethical" and "bank" in the same sentence? A new campaign has been launched to try to make that happen: Some banks and pension funds have rules about what kind of companies they invest in. For example, ethical investment means the funds do not support companies involved in weapons manufacturing or environmental destruction. Human rights and labour rights are other issues that many people should urge their banks to support. Since starting in 2009, a Dutch initiative has grown into an international campaign, Fair Finance Guide. Now, Japan also joins this great project, started by A Seed Japan, JACSES and PARC. They have carefully investigated five of Japan’s largest banks. Their new website ( )* will help you compare their score on a range of issues. For example, Mizuho Bank scores relatively high on transparency, but low on environmental issues like forestry protection. All five get “Zero” for their investments

Agriculture Minister Nishikawa Resigns

This just in today, from NHK World : Japan's agriculture minister Koya Nishikawa has resigned. He submitted a letter of resignation on Monday to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who accepted it. Abe appointed former agriculture minister Yoshimasa Hayashi as Nishikawa's successor. Hayashi formally assumed the post later in the day. Nishikawa came under fire after it was found his political organization received a contribution of 3-million yen, about 25,000 dollars, from a wood processing firm. The company was granted state subsidies. Nishikawa's group also accepted a donation of one million yen, or about 8,400 dollars, from a company run by the head of a sugar industry organization. This body too, was granted state subsidies. Nishikawa said in the Diet that he thought the donations were not illegal. He said he returned the money to avoid raising doubts about his responsibility as farm minister. Serious, especially the donation from the sugar lobby, especial

We Are All Greeks Now

How will the EU deal with Greece? South vs. North narrative? Not really. More like people vs. banks. It is happening in Japan as well, esp. in Okinawa, Fukushima, Hokkaido. Rural vs. you name it - city? Hardly. Nagoya has its Toyota factories but is hardly enjoying the prosperity, in spite of the record-breaking 14+ million car sales. Detroit knows about that. London, well, it has tried immigration, will Tokyo follow? Again, hardly. Speaking of Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga is the name to remember. Ryukyu Shimpo: Okinawa Governor conveys his opposition to new US base January 15, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo On January 14, after cabinet approved the fiscal 2015 promotional budget for Okinawa, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga visited the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office. At his meeting with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, the governor conveyed his opposition to the government’s plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futema in Ginowan to Henoko, Nago, and said he

NHK Organic Farming Drama!

Starting on January 31, NHK is airing a Saturday evening drama series about organic farming. I am as surprised as anyone, but yes, the key word is indeed pesticide-free veggie-growing. Who would have thought? Filmed in the lovely mountains of Yamanashi prefecture, it is a story about a small rural village with some 50 souls left, who are wondering how to survive. Farming is easy here, with fertile soil and great weather, but nobody has any ideas how to save the village from disappearing from the map. Miho, the youngest, leaves town to try to get a job in Tokyo, but fails. Meanwhile her grandfather passes away. Her father also appears, after a long stint away, but how will they manage? A consultant, Takigawa Yu appears with lots of ideas. But who is he? His flamboyant manners and fast talking create initial suspicions, but he actually has good ideas for the village. For example, bring in kids and their grandparents on field days, to enjoy learning about vegetables, and getting a t

Mikan, Ponkan, Dekopon, You Name It...

I must have mentioned it before - this is a season I really love, as all the different varieties of citrus, oranges, or mandarins are ready for harvest. Those lucky enough to have a tree or three in their garden are out picking them, while the rest of us can explore the wide range of options in the supermarket. Last photo - my neighbor left a few at the top of his tree, wish I had a ladder! Other popular varieties include iyokan, yuzu and natsumikan. List of Japanese citrus here

Icicles in Chichibu, Saitama

Like ice? Yes! Worth the trip? Oh absolutely. I was not disappointed by the beautiful icicles, the Misotsuchi-no-tsurara in what felt like Oku-Musashi, western Chichibu in Saitama. Marvelous and almost surreal.  There is a cafe too with a warm wood stove, serving hot foods and hot coffee (I had the tiramisu and there were other cakes as well).  Had to take the bus back to Seibu Chichibu station, and there are not that many buses, so I missed the evening illumination which is probably even more gorgeous. Only in February.  More images over at Japan Travels: The Icicles of Misotsuchi