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Strong in the Rain Paints a Portrait of Survival

strong in the rain cover image

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

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


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

Nine Good Reasons to Find a Farmers Market in Tokyo


With supermarkets and convenience stores on almost every block and food cooperatives that deliver right to the door, why take the extra time go to a farmers market? The answer lies in the variety these markets offer in terms of location and atmosphere, not to mention the produce and expertise found nowhere else in the city. From Kichijoji’s busy little market to the United... Read More

Tokyo Farmers Market Outing!

Some of the fun-loving, enthusiastic farmers you'll meet on Sunday!

Some of the fun-loving, enthusiastic farmers you’ll meet on Sunday! Join us on Sunday, September 23rd for an adventure at Tokyo’s Earth Day Market in Yoyogi Park! A monthly all organic, all fair trade market, this month’s event promises to be as good as usual with it’s fantastic selection of seasonal fruit, vegetables along with tasty jams, lovely wines,... Read More

Eight Innovative Ways to Keep Cool in Tokyo


Tokyo is not just the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, but it is easily the hottest. Coming from the American Midwest, I’m accustomed to heat and humidity, but in small doses. Usually, a week of withering 99-degree heat and high humidity settles in like a hot wet blanket that can’t be shaken off. It’s about then that the western sky visible through my mother’s... Read More