The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Japanese Cooperatives Play Role in Fukushima Cleanup

Reposted from foodtank:

Cooperatives are the backbone for Japan’s rural economy through their presence in agriculture, fisheries, and even forestry. From rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and junior to elderly, cooperatives play a critical role throughout the Japanese economy. Since 1900, the Japan Agriculture Cooperative Group has been present in every village and nearly 100 percent of farm households join the cooperatives; every rural village has a co-op store and access to co-op financing and co-op insurance.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, government officials have plans to remove radioactive materials from farmlands and forests until no radioactive cesium is detected in agricultural, livestock and forestry products. As mentioned in an article by Hrabrin Bachev and Fusao Ito from the Institute of Agricultural Economics, ‘throughout Japan, there are fears of radioactive contamination leaking into the food system, which has caused consumers to reject products.’

The Japan agriculture cooperative group has had a critical role in combating the challenges with the present system of safety inspection and has teamed up with Fukushima University to rebuild consumer confidence in local produce. Together, they have collaborated to launch a Soil Screening Project, which tests the levels of contamination in several different agriculture areas. This has helped farmers keep an eye on the levels of radioactive contamination on their land and produce. Continue reading

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Kintaro The Golden Boy

Lee Jay Walker brings us the art and folklore of Japan’s Kintaro the Golden Boy:

Toshidama Gallery comments about the depiction of Kintaro by the artist Utagawa Yoshikazu (pitcure above)by stating that “Yoshikazu portrays Kintaro (the Golden Boy) wrestling one of Yorimitsu’s retainers. Kintaro, as with so many Japanese heroes, is the subject of legend and possibly some fact. Raised by his mother near Mount Kintoki it was said that he was a wild child of superhuman strength – wrestling bears, uprooting trees – and he befriended and spoke to animals especially his friends the monkeys.” Continue reading


US-Japan agree to make it easier to import each other’s organic products

The Associated Press announces a new US-Japan deal that could lead to more organic options.

The United States and Japan have agreed to make it easier to import each other’s organic products, the latest step in a global effort that could give consumers access to more — and cheaper — organic food.
The Agriculture Department announced an agreement Thursday between the United States and Japan that will allow organic products to be certified in one of the countries and be sold as organic in both. The agreement will allow producers to sell their products in both countries without going through the lengthy process of getting certified twice.
The agreement is similar to a 2009 deal with Canada and a 2012 deal with the European Union. Agriculture officials say they are looking at agreements with other countries — South Korea, and possibly India, Brazil and Mexico down the road — that could also make it easier for U.S. organic farmers to sell abroad. Continue reading


Photo of the Day

Shiota takes objects-wooden chairs, hospital beds, musical instruments, a woman’s dress-and shrouds them in a thick, dark web of thread. Her art, which she’s been producing for more than a decade, and which is currently on display at the Museum of Art, Kochi, in Japan, emphasizes how the accretion of cobwebs marks time. It makes you wonder: Who sat here last before the first strand was spun? It also nicely realizes the metaphorical way we talk about cobwebs clouding memories.  – Kevin Hartnett-


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Clammbon – For Your Pleasure

Clammbon is a Japanese musical trio, consisting of vocalist/keyboardist Ikuko Harada, bassist Mito and drummer Itou Daisuke. The group, originally formed in 1996 when the three were students at Tokyo Music and Media Arts Shogi, made their major label debut on Warner Music Japan three years later. Their music is characterized by their quirky sound combining jazzy chord progressions with J-Pop and electronica influences.

The name Clammbon is taken from a fictional character in a short story by Kenji Miyazawa.

Because the universe links like-minded people throughout the ages:

Kenji Miyazawa was a Japanese poet and author of children’s literature in the early Shōwa period of Japan. He was also known as a devout Buddhistvegetarian and social activist. Continue reading

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Yakuza Crime Group Releases New Magazine

It’s a shame George Carlin is gone.  When he joked that there’s a magazine for every activity with five participants, I don’t think even he could’ve envisioned this one.

Organised rhyme: Yakuza crime gang releases poetry mag

Magazine ... Yakuza members chop off their own fingers as punishment

Magazine … Yakuza members chop off their own fingers as punishment
Published: 10th July 2013

JAPAN’S top organised crime group has released a members’ magazine – featuring a poetry page and fishing diaries.

The publication has been distributed among the infamous Yakuza – believed to have about 27,700 members, in a bid to strengthen unity in the group, Japanese media reported.

The magazine – named “Yamaguchi-gumi Shinpo” – has an entertainment section detailing fishing trips by top officials, along with satirical haiku – a traditional Japanese form of poetry – and pieces on the board games.

The front page carries a first person piece by the group’s leader, Kenichi Shinoda, instructing younger members in the values and disciplines they should observe.

Shinoda writes that times have become hard for Japan’s mafia and that they can no longer rely on their “brand” to generate profitability in their operations, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

The number of Yakuza has declined in recent years, standing at 63,200 in late 2012, down 7,100 on the year before, according to the National Police Agency.

The Yamaguchi-gumi makes up more than 40 per cent of the nation’s organised criminals, but it lost 3,300 members in 2012, the agency said.

Like the Italian mafia or Chinese triads, the Yakuza engages in activities from gambling, drugs and prostitution to loan sharking, protection rackets, white-collar crime and business conducted through front companies.

The gangs, which are not illegal, have historically been tolerated by the authorities, although there are periodic clampdowns on some of their less savoury activities.

The Yakuza are heavily mythologised in Japan, with films, television dramas and fan magazines glamorising lives of stylised violence that are governed by a samurai code of honour.

Observers say the reality of the criminal underworld is one of brutishness and risk, where only a few achieve the wealth and standing to which they aspire.

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Where Jewels Come From

The New York Times has an interesting article on how gems tell us “important things about the planet.”

Every gem fixed to every ring or necklace was forged deep inside our planet, according to its own recipe of elements, temperature and pressure.
In the journal Geology, Dr. Harlow — writing with Robert J. Stern of the University of Texas at Dallas, Tatsuki Tsujimori of Okayama University in Japan and Lee A. Groat of the University of British Columbia — explores some stories that gems like jade can tell. Each is different. While jade is produced from dying oceans, for example, rubies are forged in newborn mountains.
Continents are ringed by rocks like shale, formed from sediments washing off of land. When crushed in this subterranean forge, shale can produce crystals of aluminum and oxygen.
If these crystals stop developing, they become sapphires. But the crystals may instead get pushed up toward the surface of the Earth. The overlying rock they move into is rich in chromium. The chromium atoms push the aluminum atoms out of the crystals and take their place, giving them a red color. “When they get a little chromium in them, we call them rubies,” Dr. Stern said.

I’ve posted the entire article under the Science tab for those who are inerested.