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Local Initiatives2020 Venue

[Part 2] Izu City’s diversity, inclusion efforts given boost by Tokyo Games

――――Click here for [Part 1] In 2019 Izu City introduced ordinance designating signing as an official language, which followed on from similar regulations passed by the Shizuoka prefectural government a year earlier—one of the first municipalities in Japan to do so.  And while this reflects a growing recognition of those with disabilities in general, the picture is not all sunshine and roses, says Morishima. For example, …

Local Initiatives2020 Venue

[Part 1] Izu City’s diversity, inclusion efforts given boost by Tokyo Games

The Izu Velodrome has a somewhat extraterrestrial appearance. Set amid lush woodland on the outskirts of Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, with Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji forming a majestic backdrop, the glistening silver domed structure resembles some spaceship from a sci-fi film readying to spin off into the stratosphere. Echoes of this futuristic facade can be found even among the more mundane features of the stadium, which …

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 …

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