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Local Initiatives2020 Venue

Newcomers show the way for Ichinomiya employment conundrum

It’s an early winter weekday, but staff at Third Place guest house in Ichinomiya, Chiba Prefecture, are far from winding down for the off-season.   After checking in two guests, owner Toshimune Hashimoto and his deputy, Keita Irie, wave off a few local surfers who have been using the showers, changing facilities and surfboard lockers that are a feature of Third Place, a Western style accommodation …

Local Initiatives2020 Venue

City surfers look to Ichinomiya for lifestyle sea change

Naminori Real Estate located in Ichinomiya Town, Chiba, has barely opened its doors for business when the phone rings and an inquiry about a seafront property comes in from out of town. “At times the phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” comments staffer Romy Iwashita as she jots down the Tokyo-based caller’s details and preferred date to view the property.  The caller on this mid-November morning has an …

Culture/Tourism/Food2020 Venue

Surf’s up for Chiba town looking to ride 2020 Olympic wave

At Tsurigasaki beach, Ichinomiya Town, a stone torii gate rises solemnly from the silken black sand, marking the place where according to Japanese folklore, Tamayori-hime, a mythological deity and putative mother of Japan’s earliest emperor, Jimmu, first stepped foot on mortal land.   The gate, which is part of the town’s revered Tamasaki Shrine, will serve a more contemporary function when the gods of the surfing …

Local Industry2020 Venue

Made in Hokkaido technology adds color and cool to Olympics

Throughout the summer, residents and visitors to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido were treated to some unseasonal sights. As August temperatures soared past 34 C in Hokkaido’s capital city Sapporo, exquisite cherry blossoms, Japan’s veritable symbol of spring, decorated a shopping arcade and other parts of the city as well as nearby New Chitose Airport. A few days later, children at schools and nurseries in Bibai …

Local Initiatives2020 Venue

Fukushima flowers fete medalists at “Recovery” Olympics

Amid the lush woodland that blankets the Abukuma mountain range in northeastern Fukushima Prefecture, a huddle of greenhouses in the foothills are filled not with vegetables or fruit, but rows of a flowering plant more commonly associated with the Americas.   The Yamakiya district of Kawamata town is one of several areas in Fukushima where, during the warm, early summer months, cultivators can be found gathering …

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

In late January, What’s Up Japan visited a workshop in Fukushima Prefecture making the traditional local craft akabeko, and began preparing an article on the history of akabeko as talismans for good health and on how they were chosen as official merchandise for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.After the delay of the Games was announced on March 24, the workshop was asked for a follow-up comment, …

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