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Strong in the Rain Paints a Portrait of Survival

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The aftermath of a natural disaster is no simple affair. Even in Japan, a country long accustomed to earthquakes and the tsunamis that inevitably follow, there is an element of unpredictability. The 9.0 magnitude quake that struck on March 11th, 2011, brought with it a tsunami the likes of which had not been seen for 500 years.  Still, it was the nuclear wild card that threw this... Read More

Sustainable Living Tips from Japan: A Review of Azby Brown’s Just Enough

Detail of a screen at Koyasan.

Detail of a screen at Koyasan. As the world faces a future of global warming, increasing economic disparity, and a fiery mix of political turmoils, Azby Brown asks us to take a moment to look back to find the solutions. Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan (Kodansha, 2009) takes readers on an intimate tour of Edo Period Japan (1603-1898). In it, Brown points... Read More

Growing New Life in Ishinomaki with Peace Boat

At work in one of Peace Boat's gardens. 
Photo courtesy of Ikumi Sasaki.

At work in one of Peace Boat’s gardens.Photo courtesy of Ikumi Sasaki. A garden, as every gardener knows, is more than just plants and dirt. A person might first turn the soil out of a desire to save a few pennies or to taste a rare variety of tomato or pepper. The garden often moves beyond plants and harvest to become a beloved space, one where the cares of the day get worked... Read More

Rebuilding Faith: Fukushima Farmer Finds Support at Tokyo Farmers Market

Takako Kimura at the Nippori Farmers Market.

Takako Kimura at the Nippori Farmers Market in Tokyo. As a customer at Tokyo’s Nippori Farmers Market starts filling the katakuchi (shallow bamboo basket) that Takako Kimura holds for her, Takako speaks up. “It’s from Aizu Wakamatsu. Is it ok?” The woman, busy scanning Takako’s table groaning with daikon large and small, negi (long onions), broccoli and other... Read More

Japanese gardening philosophy in small potting ‘yoseue’

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Sho = pine tree Chiku = bamboo Bai = plum tree Above three plants are known to represent “good luck” and “happiness” in Japan. Given this, Sho Chiku Bai are used for New Year’s decoration. If you are free on this coming Saturday, Dec. 8th, and happen to be around Tokyo, why don’t you come join Mr. Sakai’s New Year’s ‘good... Read More

Only paper, yet with million possibilities

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It all started in 2005, when Akiyoshi Yamada, representative of Fukunaga Print Co (located in Tachikawa) visited ”Tsukushi Stationer”, which was in the neighborhood and had just reopened recently. The second heir owner, Shuu Hagiwara was a design director, and before stepping into the shoes of a stationer, he worked at a major printing company. Yamada used to work in the apparel... Read More

More than Cotton: bioRe’s Organic Initiative

Indian woman harvesting bioRe organic cotton.
Photo copyright Panoco Organic Cotton/Remei AG.

Following is the first in a new series of articles about organizations doing a bit of ecotwaza, using traditional practices with a modern twist, to achieve sustainability. We like to think of these global initiatives with a very local focus as going ‘glocal.’ bioRe, the company where IKT sources the organic cotton used to make their wonderful towels, seemed like a perfect... Read More

Ami-kumi Basketry

In Aizu region, where it is known to have heavy snow during winter, people have learnt to utilize the time by weaving baskets and other tools with ingredients collected from the local mountains. During spring and summer, twigs, vines and barks are gathered and dried, using the long winter nights as a time to craft. The handmade baskets and daily items have a face of its own, and... Read More

Growing Solutions in Tohoku with Aquaponics

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As Aragon St-Charles watched footage of the tsunami triggered by the March 11th earthquake in Japan sweeping across the landscape from his still shaking Tokyo home, he could hardly believe his eyes. Two days later, he watched again as explosions rocked the heavily damaged Daiichi Power Plant. Farmers and producers, some representing the 16th generation of a family to work the land,... Read More

Lacquerware- beautiful and functional

“It is difficult to handle Japanese lacquerware” We are made to think that way because the japan ware in this context is often meaning the art work of traditional craftsmanship. However, in the old days, japan ware was used to serve miso soup and daily foods. Japan ware has lower heat conductivity compared to glassware and chinaware, and it is known to keep warm things warm... Read More