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Strong in the Rain Paints a Portrait of Survival

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 country of calm and order, the one most prepared for such kinds of calamities, into new realms of environmental degradation, community displacement, and crisis management. For those living in Tohoku, the northern region of the country directly impacted by this triple calamity, recovery is underway, but the catastrophe lingers two years later as a dull ache of temporary housing, economic crisis, and energy turmoil.

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

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 out that then as now, Japan faced severe environmental degradation, economic crises, and a discontented population. Yet, shortly after the country entered a time of unprecedented economic and environmental stability. Brown believes answers for today can be found in these previous times.

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Growing New Life in Ishinomaki with Peace Boat

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 into the soil and tossed in the compost bin. Later, they emerge as surplus fruit shared with neighbors or a bright bouquet picked for a friend. Sore muscles and a slight sunburn garnish a family meal grown from seed and recently harvested. However, some residents of Ishinomaki, one of the cities hardest hit by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, will also attest that a garden can change lives.

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Rebuilding Faith: Fukushima Farmer Finds Support at Tokyo 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 winter vegetables, nods her head. “Daijoubu desu,” (“It’s fine,) she says adding a bag of rice to her growing pile of purchases.

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More than Cotton: bioRe’s Organic Initiative

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 place to begin. – The ecotwaza Team

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

It began with a question on a doorstep. Patrick Hohmann, on a routine business trip to India for Remei AG, his textile company in Switzerland, stood talking with a spinner outside his office. He asked where the spinner got his cotton.

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