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Local Initiatives2020 Venue

Miyagi business sows the seeds for Olympics field of dreams

A band of green stretches south along the coast of Sendai Bay from Yamamoto Town, Miyagi Prefecture. It’s a lush, 100-hectare oasis amid what was, a decade ago, a wasteland, and is something akin to northeastern Japan’s very own field of dreams.   Here, rippling gently in the breeze, can be found varieties of turf-grass, such as Kentucky Blue, Tifton and Japanese Zoysia, all cultivated under …

Local Initiatives2020 Venue

Newspapers strive to keep disaster-affected residents in Yuriage informed

An alternative newspaper hit the news stands of Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture on July 1, 2020, its front page emblazoned with an elevated view of coastal Yuriage district, one of the worst-hit communities during the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in March 2011.   In this half-page color photo, however, there are no crumbling buildings, displaced fishing boats, or overturned vehicles floating forlornly in …

Local Initiatives2020 Venue

Miyagi storytellers relay tales of tsunami, recovery efforts

The story is simple, but heartbreakingly difficult for Naomitsu Kakui to tell. At 15:26 on March 11, 2011, marauding tsunami waves inundated the Yuriage district of Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, taking with them Kakui’s family home and many others in the coastal part of the community. The disaster accounted for the deaths of more than 10 percent of Yuriage’s 7,100 population, including Kakui’s parents. Almost a …

Culture/Tourism/Food2020 Venue

Traditional doll figures prominently in Fukushima town’s recovery, Olympics plans

While the name Tsuchiyu has yet to find much global recognition, a cultural aspect of the hot spring resort has in fact been on the world map for some years. Among the town’s traditional folk crafts is kokeshi, a wooden doll whose minimalist form and colorful designs have been fashioned on lathes by artisans in the Tohoku region of northern Japan for centuries. Tsuchiyu in Fukushima …

Culture/Tourism/Food2020 Venue

Fukushima: Talismanic bovine toy carries hope for disaster recovery, 2020 Tokyo Games

Mieko Arai sits at a worktop inside her family’s shop-cum-atelier, and deftly paints a series of white lines on a red papier-mâché object. When complete, those marks appear like two crosses, but in fact represent a time-honored emblem known as igeta, itself symbolizing a wooden frame found atop a traditional well. “Many people don’t know what the marks represent, or even the origins of the objects …

Local Industry2020 Venue

Fukushima: Hot spring town is no shrimp in low carbon quest

Amid the densely wooded Azuma mountains that back the onsen (hot spring) town of Tsuchiyu lies an unexpected and unique sight.   At the side of an unsealed mountain track, some 700 meters above sea level stands a pair of greenhouses, neither of which houses vegetables, or any other horticultural produce. Instead, each contains rows of tanks filled with water and hundreds of prawns, which scuttle …

Local Industry2020 Venue

Timber: The roots of Japanese construction is on the verge of “renaissance”

—– Continued from Part 1 “Hadano branches out to support athletes at 2020 Tokyo Olympics” Another objective of Kita Elementary’s activities is to give pupils an opportunity to meet those who protect and nurture Hadano’s forests and the work that entails. Among the officials assisting the children were members of the local forestry association.   “The tradition of managing the forest has been handed down over …

Local Industry2020 Venue

Hadano branches out to support athletes at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

“Timber!” comes a shout, followed by squeals of excitement as a tree creaks and cracks and finally falls to the ground with a thud.   Guided by teachers and forestry officials, half a dozen children unleash saws from their scabbards and eagerly set about slicing up the bark into discs, which they will take home to use as coasters.   “My arm aches,” says one of …

Local Industry2020 Venue

Kawaguchi foundry industry forges a path toward Tokyo 2020 Olympics

1964 Tokyo Olympic cauldron made in “the foundry town” of Kawaguchi In October, residents gathered in front of Kawaguchi Station to welcome home a long-lost friend. To great ceremony, the 2.1-meter-high, 4-ton seikadai (Olympic cauldron), was reignited and reunited with its place of birth for the first time in 61 years.  The cauldron had burned brightly during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, blazing a trail at an …

Local Initiatives2020 Venue

Blossoming Hokkaido snow-cooling technology set to beat heat during Tokyo Olympics

It’s midsummer, and while temperatures in Tokyo are a wilting 35 C, in the capital’s upmarket Ginza district there’s snow on the ground. Passersby, some holding fans and dressed in yukata – Japan’s traditional summertime kimono – stop to take selfies, while young children seize the opportunity to enjoy a bit of natural chill, even a snowball fight.    “It feels really good,” said one as she …

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